DuckDuckGo: The privacy-conscious search engine taking the fight to Google by NOT tracking you
Let’s face it, Google probably knows everything about you.
Whether it’s through the search engine, internet browser, phone or emails, the service is learning new things about you each day. In fact, last year, Google launched an opt-in service known as “My Activity”, a page where you can see everything Google has learnt about you in one place.
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But if you want this to change, there is an alternative, and it’s growing in popularity. Describing itself as “the search engine that doesn’t track you”, DuckDuckGo promises not to collect any information about its users, including their IP address.
What is DuckDuckGo?
The DuckDuckGo search engine was launched in 2008 by founder Gabriel Weinberg, who funded it himself until it secured investment with Union Square Ventures in 2011. Since then, the company has gone from strength to strength.
According to figures from the website Alexa, DuckDuckGo has almost doubled its popularity in the past year, giving it the title of 400th most popular website worldwide. In September, the website reached 19 million direct searches, a figure that has shown a gradual increase throughout the year.
Unlike other search engines, when you click on a link through DuckDuckGo the site you are sent to knows nothing about the words you used to find it. “What you search for is your own business and we’d like to keep it that way,” the company says.
DuckDuckGo recently reported that only 24% of adults care enough about their online privacy to take action to protect it while 65% would be motivated to switch search engines if they knew the search engine wouldn’t collect personal data.
The search engine is aimed at providing a quicker answer, requiring fewer clicks. It uses features called Instant Answers, which provide an answer without leaving the app, and !bangs, which take you straight to a particular website.
Elsewhere, the website offers a service that automatically changes the address of well-known websites to encrypted versions, if you click through its search engine.
Plus it offers fewer adverts. “Less clutter, less spam, fewer ads and an overall cleaner design,” the company says. “We can do this since we just focus on web search and therefore don’t have to promote other services on our results pages.”
When it comes to advertising, DuckDuckGo makes money based on the keywords a user searches for, rather than the details of the person, meaning it does not need to collect any other information to create lucrative advertising.
DuckDuckGo and Brave
DuckDuckGo recently partnered with the Brave browser to integrate the DuckDuckGo search within the browser’s private tabs.
The tie-in is available if you upgrade the Brave browser to 0.19.116. DuckDuckGo will be integrated in the Brave Android and iOS apps in the first quarter of 2018.
Under the partnership, when you open a private tab on Brave – the equivalent of opening an Incognito tab on Google – you’ll get the option to make DuckDuckGo your default search engine.
Many popular sites host as many as 70 trackers, following you around the web and collecting information about your habits. Brave, by default, stops ads and trackers and its private tabs are not logged in History or in browsing data.
DuckDuckGo browser extension
You can set DuckDuckGo as your default search engine and add the DuckDuckGo browser extension to Google Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer, Opera, Safari and Microsoft Edge. Below are the links for each extension. Click the one that applies to your browser(s).
- Chrome (extension link)
- Firefox (extension link)
- Internet Explorer
- Microsoft Edge
- Opera (extension link)
- Safari (extension link)
For each of those browsers, you can also add DuckDuckGo as your default search engine directly from the homepage using the address bar.
Go to DuckDuckGo, right-click the address in the address bar, select “Edit search engines” and find DuckDuckGo. You can now set this as your default search engine.