(One of my Montana Arts Council State of the Arts Newspaper Tech Talk Columns)
We don’t have to look very far to find news of the latest website hack that reveals private financial and bank account data. But you may not know that data from your own web searches can be legally collected, sold and can follow you around.
Do you wonder why things you Googled for one day appear as ads and links on other websites the next day? It’s your search data that has been collected by those companies and that is linked together to form a profile of your search habits.
It’s all in the fine print you click through when you agree to the TOS of a website service such as Google’s search. Does that make you uneasy? But what you search for on the web is probably just as private as credit card account information.
These privacy concerns have fueled the growth of a search engine that takes privacy seriously. DuckDuckGo is the search engine company, and their motto is simple: “We don’t collect or share personal information.” So what you search for at DuckDuckGo doesn’t even stay at DuckDuckGo; it was never saved to begin with.
DuckDuckGo has been quickly gaining millions of users who may no longer believe Google’s “Don’t be Evil” mantra, seeing that Google has made a mess of some of their own privacy concerns while on the way to a half trillion dollar market capitalization.
DuckDuckGo has been growing at between 200% and 500% per year since they began in 2008. And after Edward Snowden’s famous revelations about data collection and surveillance in 2013, DuckDuckGo’s growth line pointed straight up.
DuckDuckGo offers other search features: when you “Duck”, you get general web results, like Google, but you also get human curated instant answers, too, at the top of the page. This is the human element of Ducking, and offers a quick answer to some searches without having to click links to other sites. (Google took DuckDuckGo’s lead and now does this now, too, by pulling information from Wikipedia).
Another great feature of DuckDuckGo the the “!bang” search. That means you can internally search many other sites form DuckDuckGo. if you are doing general searches, and find you want to search eBay for Nikon cameras, type “!ebay nikon cameras” at the Duck, and you will get those search results from eBay within DuckDuckGo’s page.
You can go to DuckDuckGo.com and learn lots more about the company, their mobile Apps and other search features. Now, the Duck may not yet be able to show the same raw number of search results that Google can, but at least for my uses, the side by side results are comparable, and I’ve started using both searches now. And in the future, I may dump Google for the Duck, too.