Recently there’s been a lot of discussion about Google’s privacy standards and the personalization of search results. In a nutshell, whenever you search for something on Google, that information is stored on Google’s servers. Google uses this information to then deliver you targeted advertisements.
Google also uses this information to personalize your search results. The verdict is still out on personalization. Proponents say that it makes the internet more efficient. They say it allows users to find and access relevant information without wading through a bunch of unhelpful search results. On the other side, opponents of personalization claim that it creates a “filter bubble” around internet users and keeps them from encountering conflicting or unpopular opinions.
Take, for instance, the search term “liberal.” If I were a left-leaning user and frequented sites such as MoveOn.org, the search term “liberal” would probably provide me with a list of liberal-leaning sites. If I were a right-leaning user, however, the same search term would probably generate a list of conservative sites offering anti-liberal views. Either way, I haven’t escaped my own bias or encountered ideas from the other side. If I’m a liberal I get liberal sites. And if I’m a conservative I get conservative sites.
One of the newly “hatched” search engines working to combat search personalization and data collection is Duck Duck Go. Silly name right? Don’t be fooled, Duck Duck Go is up to some serious business.
Duck Duck Go is a search engine just like Google, Yahoo or Bing except that it doesn’t collect any information about your searches or about you. Unlike Google, Duck Duck Go doesn’t store any of your searches or clicks on its servers. Every Duck Duck Go user gets the same results unless they filter the material themselves. So if you type in “liberal” on a liberal’s Mac and do the same thing on a conservative’s PC, you get the same result.
Recently, Duck Duck Go has been gaining in popularity. In March 2011, the engine was receiving fewer than 200,000 visitors per month. By February 2012, it was getting one million visits per day.
Duck Duck Go isn’t perfect yet. For instance, if you’re trying to do an image search you’ll still have to use Google. Looking for news? You’re still using GoogleNews as well. But for those concerned about maintaining their web anonymity or breaking their “filter bubble,” Duck Duck Go may be something to consider for general searches.