Once upon a time, Google was a humble search engine. Today, it is the largest search engine in the world and one of the many products and services of the parent company Alphabet Inc. It is the second largest internet company right now with Amazon being the largest. While most people use Google as their default search engine for different reasons, Bing and Yahoo are quite well known, so were Ask and AOL once upon a time. There are over ten major search engines in the world. You may have heard of Baidu, Wolframalpha, Internet Archive and Yandex. Duck Duck Go is one of the younger search engines on this list. It was founded in 2008. In less than ten years, Duck Duck Go has become a default choice for millions of users across the globe. While its influence is dwarfed by the omnipresence and omnipotence of Google, it has become a significant player and merits an extensive assessment.
Introduction to DuckDuckGo
DuckDuckGo is not like other search engines. It prioritizes privacy. It does not personalize the search results as that requires tracking and recording data of the users. DDG does not use filter bubble. It does not profile the users. Instead, it focuses on relevant search results based on the keywords or search criteria. The same results are hence displayed for all users regardless of who they are, where they are, what purpose they may have to initiate that search and what they may want to do eventually with the information made available.
DDG obtains the results from more than four hundred different sources including major sites like Wikipedia, Yahoo, Bing, Yandex and social media among others. DuckDuckGo was built on an open source platform and a part of its source is still available for anyone to view. The core code is proprietary and cannot be altered though. Peripheral changes can be made. The company has hosted its free software on GitHub. It is available as an Apache 2.0 License.
DuckDuckGo is now an optional search engine in some browsers such as Safari and Firefox. It is the default search engine in Tor browser. Users can access the search engine on Windows, Mac OS, Linux, Android and iOS devices. DDG is available as an extension. There is an app and users can install plug-ins. DDG is expanding its bouquet of services. It now offers a mobile web browser with the same features as the traditional search engine, such as encryption and private search without tracking.
DuckDuckGo vs. Google
There are many differences between Duck Duck Go and Google. DDG has recorded sixteen billion searches since its inception to the month of April in 2018. Google records more than twenty one billion searches in one year. Google has been around longer so the total searches are obviously exponentially greater. To put things into perspective, Google processes over fifty seven million searches in a day and Duck Duck Go processes over twenty three million searches. This does not mean DDG is half the size of Google or in terms of influence since the latter is integral across platforms. It is not just the search engine but the likes of YouTube, advertising networks, content delivery networks and various other interfaces where Google plays a pivotal role.
The most significant and also the quintessential difference between Duck Duck Go and Google is privacy. Google tracks everything about everyone who uses any of its websites. Google has managed to offer many of its services for free because they earn a fortune through advertising. Their entire advertising apparatus will fall apart if they do not track activities of users and compile the data for personalized search engine results and relevant advertisements. In an attempt to personalize the data as per what Google thinks is relevant for users and to push advertisements accordingly, the search engine has often ended up listing irrelevant or low quality results. Google is definitely not committed to privacy. It is actually trading data of users for its revenues.
Duck Duck Go does not record any activity, there is no tracking and no user has a profile made by the search engine based on the history of interaction. Duck Duck Go is committed to privacy. It has advertisements but they are generic, influenced by the search criteria or keywords and other terms. The advertisements are not specifically targeted to an individual at a place, having a certain profile and the detailed history of using the search engine for particular purposes. Duck Duck Go also allows its users to turn off advertisements.
Is Duck Duck Go Better than Google?
Duck Duck Go is better for users who are conscious of their online privacy and do not want a big brother in the virtual world. If you like to be free and anonymous with no one keeping a record of every search you initiate, the websites you visit and the purchases you make, then you should try Duck Duck Go. If you want personalized search results, relevant advertisements and do not mind a search engine or tech giant creating a profile of yours factoring in all online activities, then you can keep using Google.
Duck Duck Go makes little sense for advertisers as there is no personalization and hence no targeting. Irrelevant ads do not help sales, albeit Duck Duck Go is an affiliate of global marketplaces such as Amazon and they earn a tiny commission when users get redirected from their search engine results through the published ads and buy a product or sign up for a service. Advertisers want to target their ads and they also want to strategize based on who they are targeting. Duck Duck Go cannot help them much in this regard as the search criteria based advertising is also available on Google.
Curious about the internet? Do you think the internet is truly decentralised?