It's the Google search alternative you should be using.

Since Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica scandal, people have become more aware of what information they are giving companies and advertisers, sometimes without their knowledge or consent. The number of data breaches also rose to a record high of 1,862 in 2021. More people are taking steps to protect their information, and one way some are doing that is by using the search engine DuckDuckGo.

DuckDuckGo has positioned itself as a privacy-focused alternative to search engines like Google. DuckDuckGo has rolled out Android and iOS mobile apps and browser extensions to help keep your information secure no matter if you use it on your phone or computer.

Here are five reasons why you should be using DuckDuckGo. 

Stop online trackers from spying on you

Online trackers are everywhere on the internet. Princeton’s Web Transparency & Accountability Project found that Google trackers are present in about 75% of websites, and Facebook trackers are present in about 25% of sites. These trackers collect data on your interests and behavior on certain websites. While this data won’t identify you, these internet habits paired with access to your social media profile is enough to recognize you, according to a study from Princeton and Stanford universities. (PDF)

DuckDuckGo identifies and blocks these online trackers from sites like Google and Facebook. The search engine can also show you the networks that have tracked you over time to give you a fuller picture on how your data is being used. 

However, DuckDuckGo came under fire in May after some tracking scripts from the company’s partner, Microsoft, were found while using DuckDuckGo’s browsers. Gabriel Weinberg, DuckDuckGo’s CEO, said this was due to the company’s partnership agreement and said DuckDuckGo is working to change this policy.

You’ll see fewer ads

When using DuckDuckGo you should see fewer ads overall.

If you run a search via Google, you might see ads in the top results of the search. You won’t always see ads in those spots, but they’re formatted similarly to normal search results, with just a bolded “Ad” and separator dot to distinguish them. 

When you search for something on DuckDuckGo, you’ll see fewer ads in your search results and save some time.

In addition to fewer ads on the results page, because DuckDuckGo blocks online trackers, ads won’t follow you across the web. If you use DuckDuckGo to search for something like a new food bowl for your pet, you won’t keep seeing ads for pet bowls on different sites. These ads don’t follow you around like said pet demanding you feed them despite having just given them food 5 minutes ago.

Websites should load faster

On top of collecting your data and causing ads to follow you around, online trackers also add extra data to websites you visit, slowing the website’s load time. DuckDuckGo blocks these trackers, frees up bandwidth and lets websites load faster. 

Your search history isn’t stored

Let’s say you get into a debate with your significant other over which way the toilet paper should hang. You say it should hang under. They say the patent for toilet paper clearly has the toilet paper going over, making that the correct way. You look up the patent and find that yes, the toilet paper is hanging over. You sit in disbelief, and now your search history will shame you unless you have the auto-delete function turned on in Google, or you go into My Activity in Google and delete the search.

If you use DuckDuckGo, though, this blemish won’t show up in your search history to begin with because the search engine doesn’t save your searches. Each time you open DuckDuckGo is a fresh start, free from anything you may have searched for before. 

A downside to this is there are no suggested search options. Also, if you want to look at something you saw previously you won’t be able to search for it in your history.

Google’s Incognito mode keeps your search history private, too, but it does so by deleting your search history once you close the window. If you don’t close the window, it’s still stored. Incognito mode also still collects some of your information, like your location and search activity. 

Your search results won’t be influenced by your browsing history

Google filters the results it shows you when you use it to search for something. Google shows you things related to your search it thinks you will click on based on the data it has collected on you. It doesn’t bother showing you results it doesn’t think you’ll click. This means that depending on your search history, if you search for “coffee” your top result might be the nearest coffee shops, an article on the health benefits of coffee or the history of coffee.

DuckDuckGo will show you more robust search results because it doesn’t filter your results. Some of the results you see on the first page of a DuckDuckGo search might show up on the second or third page of a Google search.

Because your search results aren’t tailored to you and your interests, search results can feel imprecise when compared with Google. Some DuckDuckGo users on Reddit have said they have used Google for some searches when DuckDuckGo gives them irrelevant search results. This sounds like a downside, but it ultimately means DuckDuckGo is working properly.

For more on privacy, check out how to use Apple’s lockdown mode, how safety check on iOS 16 can help abuse survivors and how your abortion searches could be used to prosecute you.

Correction, July 27: This has been corrected to state that Google doesn’t show whole pages of ads, and to explain that trackers alone can’t identify a person and how your internet activity might impact your search results.


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