For many years, websites have collected user data to either sell to third-party sites or use for their targeted advertising.
The most well-known examples include Facebook and Google.
Serving an ad or showing relevant search results about the shoes you wanted seemed like a relatively harmless use of personal data that worked to (what seemed like) everyone’s benefit.
Then the data scandals started.
From the Microsoft Hotmail scandal to Cambridge Analytica to the Zoom scandal of 2020, online users have felt the sting of leaked data.
These scandals have made users more aware of how their data is being used on the web – and left many wondering how to have more online privacy.
What Is DuckDuckGo?
DuckDuckGo is a search engine created by Gabriel Weinberg in 2008. This search engine is dedicated to the online privacy of its users.
Their search features include:
- Local business answers.
- Products and shopping.
- Wikipedia references.
- Currency conversions.
- Flight information.
- Sport scores.
- Question and answer references.
DuckDuckGo also includes what they call bonus features:
- Shortcut commands that take you directly to other websites from the search engine.
- Language and region localization.
- Customizable themes, including a dark theme.
DuckDuckGo also has apps and extensions for various operating systems and browsers.
So, you can still use Chrome, Safari, or any other favorite browser and avoid being tracked.
DuckDuckGo User Statistics
DuckDuckGo is the second most popular mobile search engine in the U.S.
DuckDuckGo users made over 8 billion search queries in Q1 of 2022.
DuckDuckGo holds 0.68% of the search engine market share worldwide.
However, in the U.S, DuckDuckGo holds 2.51% of the search engine market share.
The DuckDuckGo Chrome extension app has over six million users.
Advertising on DuckDuckGo is 10 times cheaper than Google.
DuckDuckGo has raised $13 million in funds.
DuckDuckGo operates with a staff of 172 people.
How Is DuckDuckGo Different From Other Search Engines?
When you visit a website, that website takes note of your IP address through network routers, so they know where to send the information.
Typically, a website stores your IP address and the data.
However, DuckDuckGo promises to hide your IP address when using its search engine.
When you click on a search result, the link redirects the information request to prevent it from sending your search terms to the site.
Essentially, the sites know that you visited them, but they don’t know from where or with what keywords.
Additionally, to provide a personalized search experience, Google, Yahoo, and Bing track your search history and personal data (even in incognito mode).
This practice helps these search engines deliver targeted ads and personalized search results.
DuckDuckGo takes the opposite approach from other search engines.
DuckDuckGo promises to avoid collecting that data so you can escape what they call the “filter bubble.”
DuckDuckGo’s search results are not customized based on personal preference, search history, or location.
No Stored Search History
Think about all the things you search for online: medical information, financial solutions, location-based queries, etc.
Some of those searches can be pretty personal.
Other major search engines sell that information to advertisers so they can serve you personalized ads.
DuckDuckGo promises never to store your search history, ever.
Every time you use DuckDuckGo’s browser, you can expect a new search result.
So how do they make money?
By still serving you ads, of course.
However, the difference is that DuckDuckGo targets the keywords you search for instead of being based on you.
So, if you search for pens, it’ll show you ads for pens.
However, if you then search for stationery, it’ll show you ads for stationery.
No Third-Party Trackers
Did you know that Google tracks website visitors on 86% of the top 50,000 websites globally?
That’s because many sites use Google Analytics to help track visitors. Additionally, Google runs three of the most extensive non-search ad networks most sites use: Adsense, Admob, and DoubleClick.
So it’s hard to get away from Google. Yahoo and Bing also track your internet usage to build profiles on you.
Facebook is another tech giant that tracks users behind the scenes.
However, their coverage is only 36% of the top websites.
DuckDuckGo’s browser and mobile app promise to block trackers from other search engines, Facebook, and other trackers.
So for those looking to stay anonymous when they venture off the search engines, DuckDuckGo could be your answer.
Have you ever heard of the filter bubble?
The filter bubble occurs when users encounter information that reinforces their own beliefs.
Considering that Google, Bing, and Yahoo are best known for providing personalized search results, you can imagine this happens frequently.
What does this mean for searchers?
If you have political leanings or other ideologies, the major search engines remember that and filter out content they think you’ll skip.
Therefore, you are more likely to be served results you already agree with.
DuckDuckGo, on the other hand, believes that search results should be unbiased.
Therefore, their search results page gives everyone the same results, regardless of their political preference, cultural bias, or other demographics.
What Crawler Does DuckDuckGo Use?
DuckDuckGo uses over 400 sources to provide results, including sources such as:
- Apple Maps.
- Wolfram Alpha.
They also use DuckDuckBot, their web crawler, and other crowd-sourced sites like Wikipedia to generate their equivalent of a snippet.
However, they explicitly confirm that they do not use any sources from Google.
This is reassuring to those who want their internet usage to stay private.
Pros And Cons Of DuckDuckGo
Though Google is still the big man on top, the number of DuckDuckGo’s users is climbing steadily.
They don’t track users, so it’s impossible to get an exact number.
But DuckDuckGo reported that 80 million people used their search engine as of November 2020.
While DuckDuckGo may seem like the perfect solution for those with privacy concerns, there are some pros and cons to this alternative search engine.
Pros of DuckDuckGo:
- Absolute privacy when searching.
- Bangs shortcuts to take you directly to a website.
- Clean interface.
- No targeted ads.
- Unbiased search results.
- One-page search results.
- No social engineering based on your searches.
Cons of DuckDuckGo:
- Not as many search engine perks as Google, Yahoo, or Bing.
- The search algorithm is not as advanced.
- Limited search results.
- No protection from malware or viruses.
- Weak ranking factors.
- Mapping and image results are not as good.
If you value your online privacy and don’t mind taking a few extra minutes to search, then DuckDuckGo is a viable alternative.
However, if you like all the bells and whistles of other major search engines, remember that those luxuries come at a cost.
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