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Google Privacy Your Rights Online

More People Than Ever Are Using DuckDuckGo; Site Says It Observed 14M Searches in One Day This Month (betanews.com) 210

An anonymous reader shares a BetaNews article: A lot of people are more privacy aware than they have been in the past, and are wary of entrusting everything they search for to Google. That's where privacy-focused sites like DuckDuckGo come in. Its growth since it launched 8 years ago has been nothing short of staggering, with the number of searches skyrocketing since 2013, when Edward Snowden first revealed how the US government was spying on its people. The search site says it has to date served up over 10 billion anonymous searches, with 4 billion of those occurring in the last year alone, and the company says it is growing faster than ever. On January 10 2017, the site received in excess of 14 million private searches.
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More People Than Ever Are Using DuckDuckGo; Site Says It Observed 14M Searches in One Day This Month

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  • by wbr1 ( 2538558 ) on Monday January 23, 2017 @12:05PM (#53720853)
    Caveat.. I do not know how DDG is funded. That said, serving that much traffic COSTS. The data they could collect has value. It is likely only a matter of time until one of the following:

    1. Company folds due to lack of funds
    2. Company sells or reorganizes to collect funds and starts divulging user data to do so.
    3. Governments come in and either silently snoop or shut them down.M

    Yeah, I am a cynic and have little faith in humanity. Sorry.

    • by houstonbofh ( 602064 ) on Monday January 23, 2017 @12:10PM (#53720887)
      Seeing as how it just donated a quarter million to privacy sites, I would say they are OK for cash right now. (From the article above) And advertising still pays without having to need the whole pie. https://www.quora.com/How-does... [quora.com] (Searched for on DDG)
    • by telchine ( 719345 ) on Monday January 23, 2017 @12:13PM (#53720907)

      I do not know how DDG is funded.

      DuckDuckGo earns revenue in two ways:

      Serving ads from the Yahoo–Bing search alliance network, and
      Affiliate relationships with several companies

      • by Pascoea ( 968200 ) on Monday January 23, 2017 @12:32PM (#53721031)

        Affiliate relationships with several companies

        That's a pretty vague statement. I don't claim to know anything about DDG, or how they are funded, but that statement to me smells a lot like what Parent Post is concerned about. When your only product is data about what your customers are searching for, what do these "affiliates" have to gain by giving DDG money? Unless these affiliates are just handing over cash, without expecting anything in return.

      • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

        Affiliate relationships with several companies

        So, they're selling your data too in other words.

        • No no, they stream the data to their affiliates real time so they can honestly say they don't retain anything. Of course, one of those affiliates is likely a data warehouse owned by them with them as the only client but DDG deletes everything!
          • by Anubis IV ( 1279820 ) on Monday January 23, 2017 @02:05PM (#53721781)

            uMatrix shows that 100% of the resources being loaded in a DuckDuckGo search are first-party. There are no external scripts, tracking cookies, or other cross-site references of any sort. The first-party cookies they set are opt-in, entirely optional, and contain no identifiable information. The affiliate stuff is just the Amazon and eBay affiliate programs that anyone can sign up for (i.e. they add parameters to Amazon and eBay URLs to identify DDG as the referrer, that way they get a kickback, but it can't be tied back to you or your search).

            Their privacy policy [duckduckgo.com] is written in plain English and--particularly in the three sections about information (not) collected and shared--makes it abundantly clear that they go out of their way to avoid collecting anything remotely related to you in the first place, that way they never have to face people being concerned about the retention loopholes you're talking about. They even offer tips for how you can help prevent information leakage and point out some ways that you may leak information if you choose to disable the protections they've put in place by default.

            I get the cynical attitude, but at least look into things a bit before you wantonly smear one of the few companies that's actually trying to do right by their users when it comes to privacy.

            • by harperska ( 1376103 ) on Monday January 23, 2017 @05:14PM (#53723625)
              I just read through the DDG privacy policy statement you linked. I have no reason to doubt their intentions at preserving your privacy. However, it would not be in violation of their privacy policy for them to do a call-out to a third party REST service (e.g. one run by the aforementioned ad network) on the server side as part of their search engine code, sending your IP, user agent, and search string. All they say is that they do not include your search terms in the referrer header sent to websites via links in the result list, and they do not persist any of your information themselves.
        • by barbariccow ( 1476631 ) on Monday January 23, 2017 @12:56PM (#53721215)

          Basically the way it works is if you search and the link ends in ebay or amazon or another one of their partners, it adds something to the url like "&from=dg" . Then they get either a small amount from the click, or it saves in a cookie/hidden form field, whatever "I came from duck duck go" so that your purchase yields a small percent.

          Anyone who tried to make money from their personal website in the late-90s early 2000s probably remembers this model. It's old. And doesn't track you (It doesn't include WHAT you searched for, just that you found the item and you got there from duck duck go)

        • by Anubis IV ( 1279820 ) on Monday January 23, 2017 @01:42PM (#53721619)

          No, they're selling your attention without selling your information. As they make abundantly clear in their privacy policy [duckduckgo.com] (that's written in refreshingly plain English by the site's founder himself, no less), they modify links to some product pages to make them into affiliate links (i.e. they get a kickback for referring you to product pages at Amazon and eBay).

          Their Information Shared section [duckduckgo.com] is a quick read. After they explain that they don't share any info, but that you might inadvertently leak search terms to the sites you click on if you purposefully disable protections DDG enables by default, they then have this great snippet that demonstrates the sort of mindset they follow:

          Also, like anyone else, we will comply with court ordered legal requests. However, in our case, we don't expect any because there is nothing useful to give them since we don't collect any personal information.

          Moreover, you can disable advertising for DuckDuckGo if you want (it's a setting you can toggle). Oh, and all of those settings I'm talking about? They only ever exist client-side and aren't linked to an account or identity in any way. You either pass them in as a set or URL parameters or as a cookie that contains no identifiable information. In fact, in a quick check of the site via uMatrix (with ads disabled), it shows that 100% of the resources served are first-party, so there isn't a single external Javascript or tracking cookie being set by sleazy advertisers or people outside their control.

          If you're still concerned, here are the details about how they make money [duck.co], which make it abundantly clear (again, in plain English) how they make money without selling their users' information.

          Honestly, if you want to complain about DDG, the biggest issue remains the quality of their results. They finally got "good enough" for me, so I switched to them about a year ago and haven't regretted it, and they've only been getting better since then (e.g. they'll oftentimes have the top-rated StackOverflow answer displayed as a pull-out at the top of the search results), but there's still room for improvement (e.g. longer search terms produce noisy results for me). That said, the fact that they offer bangs [duckduckgo.com] makes it drop-dead simple to deal with those situations (i.e. add "!g" to your search to Google it instead). Plus, the fact that I can set them as my default search engine in Chrome/iOS/etc. means that no matter where I am, I can just use the bangs for Amazon (!a), Wikipedia (!w), Google Maps (!gm), Rotten Tomatoes (!rt), or whatever else to immediately jump to the results at those sites, rather than having to first navigate to them.

          It's a great site that's continually getting better, and I would strongly encourage others to give it a shot or try it again if it's been awhile since the last time they tried it.

    • I was thinking #2, actually, assuming that is that they haven't been lying this whole time and have been collecting and using data.
    • by rtb61 ( 674572 )

      Actually the way it most often happens is. New company with good management provides quality services at a low price with tight profit margins and grows and grows. Along comes a dick bag douche psychopath and quite simply pays more for the company than it is worth with the cooperation or corrupt psychopathic banksters. Once bought they, cut services, cheapen and offshore labour, force up prices, get rid of support and basically trade on betrayed trust with the customer base. Once the profits have been bump

  • by houstonbofh ( 602064 ) on Monday January 23, 2017 @12:05PM (#53720855)
    A lot of people (myself included) will look for any other alternative to Google first. That simply became too intrusive, and people are getting very uncomfortable with it. Those same people are still on FaceBook only because that is where everyone else is. If another option becomes available, (What I would love is federated social networking somewhat like e-mail works on various servers transparently) FaceBook may see the same kind of change.
    • by tomxor ( 2379126 )
      Social networks are overrated anyway, i'm convinced they are a long fad, just go cold turkey and enjoy life with more meaningful communication. Twitter is at least focused on the actual communication part more instead of "profiles".
      • by hodet ( 620484 )

        I used to have that view. But truth is you can't live in a bubble. Well maybe you can, but you shouldn't have to. I treat FB like walking down the street. If I wouldn't say it in public I don't say it there. I logout of FB when I am not using it. I am still relatively sure they are tracking me if I logout so my whole approach to online is using my public persona. As for Twitter, the communication is limited. With FB you can at least share with family and friends. Twitter is just a bunch of people ta

      • Mainly use FaceBook for events. Twitter does not have them, and meetup charges, so no one joins.
    • by CRCulver ( 715279 ) <crculver@christopherculver.com> on Monday January 23, 2017 @01:35PM (#53721553) Homepage

      What I would love is federated social networking somewhat like e-mail works on various servers transparently)

      Even the federated model of e-mail has declined over time, with the vast majority of people using an e-mail address from a handful of large providers like GMail. Universities and companies are under pressure to have all the e-mail under their domain names actually served through GMail instead of running their own infrastructure. If you want to run your own server, there are a lot more hoops to jump through these days before you can federate, otherwise things you sent out just end up in spam folders. (These hoops are generally reasonable anti-spam ones, but they are nonetheless very different than a decade or two ago.) And now certain websites that monetize the hell out of their userbase are refusing registrations if the e-mail address you enter is from a domain that doesn't nudge its users into adopting a format like firstname.lastname@gmail.com.

      • Still a half dozen is more than one. And you can run your own mail server, (If you have the skill and the desire) but you can not run your own FaceBook.
  • I love the quality of duckduckgo search results, they have really come a long way and dare I say are now superior to the big G. On top of that, they respect privacy.
    • Really? Thanks I'll give it another chance. Hope the 16th time is a charm.
      • by barbariccow ( 1476631 ) on Monday January 23, 2017 @01:02PM (#53721255)

        It depends how you search. I know how to search. Google used to let me search well. Then they changed that.

        "Yeah, I know you put all 5 of those words on there, but how about just two of them, and a vague 3rd-level synonym for a third?"

        or "Hey, I know you put that error message in quotes. But I didn't get any ad results related to that, so I just decided to remove 3/4 of the words and replace them with 'lose weight now'

        If you need that, sure, use google. If you actually know what you're searching for, use ddg.

        • I have never had the kind of experience you describe with Google. Not once.

          I've never had a positive search experience with DDG.

          Not once.

          • A search on google for "Google no longer respects quotes" shows that in April 2012 (first result) google stopped obeying quotes. So it's been longer than I thought.

            Basically, you're probably searching for things like "Buy new tv" or "What good show now tv", and I'm looking more for obscure error messages, quotes, etc. Like I said, google is okay for some things, just not when you know exactly what you want, and don't want your result to be tailored toward a profile built from your browsing and other search

    • For now, until the SEO locusts find out that people start using that engine.

      So maybe we should be quiet about it. let the SEOs mess with the results.

    • by bjdevil66 ( 583941 ) on Monday January 23, 2017 @01:25PM (#53721453)
      I decided to give DDG a try full-time as my default in the browser a while back (year or two?). DDG wasn't getting it done, however, so I would just end up back on Google. It was easy to justify since my office still uses Google docs/spreadsheets and is deeply intertwined with their products and I can't 100% escape their "Big Google" ecosystem. Besides, their results were usually superior when it came to getting me the exact results I wanted (vs. just being close) QUICKLY - so I took advantage of the saved time I'd already paid for with my privacy already.

      I'm finding that more recently, however, that DDG is "good enough" in most cases. I still go back and forth because I'm too impatient, but DDG always gets the first shot - and I don't go back very often.

      So, if you tried DDG in the past and found their results wanting, you should give it another try.
  • For comparison (Score:5, Informative)

    by cdrudge ( 68377 ) on Monday January 23, 2017 @12:28PM (#53720993) Homepage

    For comparison purposes, Google hasn't said exactly how many searches it handles recently, but in 2012 it said it handled 1.2 trillion searches [internetlivestats.com] (or averaging 3.3B/day, 137M/hour, 2.2M/minute, 38k/second). It's estimated they handle over 2T per year now [searchengineland.com] (5.5B/day, 228M/day, 3.8M/hour, 63K/second). So Google likely handles in 2 days what DDG has done in 8 years.

    • DDG is still small fry compared to google. I think most people TRY duck duck go, hoping to switch (I know I did), the problem is, when you do try using them you quickly find how inferior they are as a search engine.

      I really hope they improve and become a true competitor (even if I don't trust any tech company is really privacy-first), right now though, they're not very good. I went with DDG for a month- but then switched back to the big evil that is Google.

      • Re:For comparison (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Voyager529 ( 1363959 ) <voyager529@y[ ]o.com ['aho' in gap]> on Monday January 23, 2017 @01:31PM (#53721511)

        I'm unfortunately in the same boat, but I think it does also depend on what you're looking for. I'd wager that if a lot of people had their default search engine changed to DDG, they'd probably fine. Let's be real, "facebook" and "facebook.com" are very common searches because most people have forgotten the distinction between a search bar and an address bar, so typing URLs in a Google/MSN search is probably a solid third of their traffic. DDG would probably be just fine for this sort of thing; people sure didn't notice when their default search got changed to Trivoli or the dozen other browser hijackers that were making their rounds a few years ago.

        Where DDG comes up very short, however, is in more specialized searches. If you're looking for a code snippet or an outdated version of some app or something more specific and technical, DDG is a crapshoot at best and useless at worst. I mean, I can't really blame them - Bing is still inferior at this point and they have thrown Microsoft quantities of money at the problem. Search is hard - there was a decade prior to Google where Altavista and Lycos were doing their best with plenty of money and lots of talent, and they were still beaten by Google.

        Ironically, DDG might get better relative to Google because Google results have continued their downward spiral toward the lowest common denominator. Just yesterday, I was trying to find out if anyone else with my particular TV was able to get the Android app "AnyRemote" to send the right IR code. I went to Google to search the model number with 'anyremote', and Google seemed to thoroughly ignore the existence of 'anyremote' in my search query, instead showing me physical remote controls, even when I put anyremote in quotes.

        If Google continues this behavior, it's only a matter of time before they end up snatching defeat from the jaws of victory, giving DDG inroads to increase their market share. The ultimate question is, however, whether the revenue they get while retaining their staunch privacy directives is enough to keep them profitable, or if they will have to compromise their privacy policy, be bought out by someone who does not share their values, or make some other rough choices to keep themselves afloat.

        • most people have forgotten the distinction between a search bar and an address bar

          Yep. Just last week I saw someone searching for their bank through Google rather than typing it in the address bar. I explained why it's bad to do that in layman-friendly terms and all I got was a blank stare.

          It doesn't help that some browsers are combining the search and address bar; these really should be kept separate.

    • Fair enough but it is worth remembering that something like that usage comparison will be true at some point of whatever search does dethrone Google in the end.

      The good thing about a search engine is that it is a tool that works equally well regardless of whether others have adopted it or not. This is quite distinct from tools that gain their value through some sort of interaction with data created by other users of the tool.

       
    • by lgw ( 121541 )

      That gives Google the revenue to be far more evil than DDG. They have a full engineering team devoted to determining your race, your religion, level of education, income, and so on. If you're worried about Trump wanting a "Muslim registry", you should at least be vaguely concerned that Google already has one.

  • https://www.qwant.com/ [qwant.com]

    Results are quite good and seem to be a bit better than duckduckgo sometimes. Uses more fancy javascript, but has more fancy features as well and the same promise of no data collection.

    • This is one of the options which I am planning to test while looking for my new primary search engine. I knew about Qwant because its bot has been systematically visiting my main site (customsolvers.com [customsolvers.com]) during the last months. I went there once and didn't get a bad impression, but still have to test it a lot before having a worthy opinion.

      As a complementary fun fact, the top search-engine bots visiting my sites are the following:
      1. Google (by far, the most persistent bot ever).
      2. Yandex (no idea why as fa
      • by allo ( 1728082 )

        I found qwant in my referer logs as well, because it got me visitors ;-).

        But i have the hang to type "!g search term" in these search engines (which i use via urlbar shortcut anyway).

        From the quality:
        - Google
        - Bing/Yandex
        - qwant
        - duckduckgo

        For some terms ddg before qwant. Yandex and Bing are very good alternatives when google finds only the seo spam sites or big companies.

        • I thought that Yandex was mostly in Russian/for Russia and never tried it, at least not directly (a big proportion of the DDG results come from Yandex); I might try it as well. I had some past bad experiences with Bing, but I guess that should try it again. Thanks for sharing your impressions!

          BTW, I forgot to mention in my previous comment the seznam.cz bot which also visits my site a lot. This is a Czech search engine, whose deep interest in my site is also a mystery to me.
          • by allo ( 1728082 )

            yandex seems to cover the web like most other search engines do. Maybe you encounter some russian censorship, but on the other hand russia doesn't care much about stuff like dmca notes *hinthinthint*

            • Thanks for the information. Perhaps a friend of a friend might eventually find this useful while performing a research about something (winkwink).
      • 2. Yandex (no idea why as far as all the contents are in English and Spanish).

        My wife, who is Russian, also speaks English and Spanish. I find your surprise surprising.

        • My wife, who is Russian, also speaks English and Spanish. I find your surprise surprising.

          Now, everything makes sense! You wife is the reason why these bots keep coming to my site. Please, do something! LOL

          As highlighted in one of my comments below, I wasn't aware about Yandex being a worldwide search-engine; I thought that it was mostly focused on Russia(n). So the reason for my surprise was my ignorance regarding this exact issue.

          In any case, I still find kind of curious these bots being so interested in my site, which isn't related to Russia at all. The most logical situation would be Engli

  • If you are running Firefox, it is easy to change your default search engine to Duck Duck Go. They have made it one of the pull down search menu options.

    I've been using it to search for months now, and I don't notice much difference. Highly recommend.

  • Great for TPB (Score:3, Informative)

    by cen1 ( 2915315 ) on Monday January 23, 2017 @01:12PM (#53721337)
    When I forget the latest domain TBP had to switch to I use DDG and it finds it. Can't say the same for Goo.. *CENSORSHIP* search engine.
  • by MobyDisk ( 75490 ) on Monday January 23, 2017 @01:26PM (#53721473) Homepage

    Since I am concerned that duckduckgo might leak search information, I prefer duckduckduckgo, which uses duckduckgo internally, but hides my searches even better. Should we ever find that duckduckduckgo is also storing personal information, we could always create duckduckduckduckgo, which would solve the problem once and for all.

  • Using it as primary search for years, do tens of searches a day and have rarely any problem. I still use !i for google image search which i find useful, but other than that I am 100% DDG user for years.

    Only problem i ever had is that it constantly prompts you to install the search bar for ddg. But i blame this on not accepting permanent cookies or noscript usage or some combination of the two. Google is even worse at trying to get you using chrome and the toolbars and all that, its beyond intrusive with the

  • I had to switch to a different search engine as I really do not have time for their CAPTCHA for each search. Moreover sometimes they even require multiple CAPTCHAs for one search. Google search was the best one but it is really not worth so much time of mine.
  • Not sure about the privacy angle, but Ecosia [ecosia.org] plants trees for every search, and otherwise uses Google's engine. Also, I've noticed the results are not personalized, which I for one prefer.
  • Would not be surprised to see people move away from youtube, facebook, and twitter, as well.

  • I don't understand how people are so unwilling to hand everything over to big ol' American Google, but when it comes to the big ol' Russian Google-clone Yandex there are no qualms what so ever. You dumbasses don't think they do the exact same thing, only with less oversight and antitrust litigation?

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