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The Brave Search Engine Survives. So Does Privacy Still Matter?

Despite Google’s overwhelming dominance, Brave clocked 2.5 billion searches since this time last year

Last year, we wrote about the Brave search engine, headed up by Mozilla pioneer Brendan Eich. Brave Search offered the first true alternative to Google since Bing by introducing a third English language index and protecting user privacy.

A nice idea, many have thought, but who really cares? So what if Big Tech makes largely unaccountable billions from marketing our information, as long as the social media services it provides remain free?

So perhaps surprisingly, Brave is hanging on. Tech maven Jacob Carpenter noted recently at Fortune that, while Google owns 92.5% of the search market business according to StatCounter, that number hasn’t changed much over a decade. And Brave is reporting 2.5 billion searches from its current search engine’s first year of operation. Carpenter notes, “ If its current monthly growth rate keeps up, Brave Search could approach 10 billion searches over the next 12 months.”

Bangkok, Thailand 25 AUG 2020. Men hand using digital tablet for search information on Google.  Wireless Smartphone technology with intelligence search engine.

Now, DuckDuckGo, which also claims it doesn’t track users, reported 35.3 billion queries in 2021. But, as Carpenter reports, that search engine appears to have compromised its no-tracking policy by allowing Microsoft a carve-out. Also, as web developer Nathan Jacobson has pointed out, only two major English language indexes exist — Google’s and Bing’s and most search “alternatives” are using those datasets. Brave established a third English language search dataset. Even a user who prefers another search engine might, if stymied, find it useful to try Brave, for a fresh look at the trail.

Carpenter comments in an e-newsletter, “Brave’s odds of threatening Google’s dominance are pretty long. Others with deeper pockets and better name recognition have tried to slay the search giant, only to end up an afterthought. But if anyone can do it, why not the company with courage in its name?”

Meanwhile, Brave unveiled a new tool last week — Goggles — that enables users to customize their own searches more effectively:

Brave has some demos ready for users to try today, including ones that prioritize posts from smaller tech blogs and filter out posts from the 1,000 most-viewed sites on the web. There’s even a Goggle to exclude posts from Pinterest — because Brave clearly knows the frustration of trying to find an image and getting a Pinterest post with no source. Brave says these Goggles are just for demonstrative purposes, and developers can expand on or fork them. It will start deleting these Goggles once users start coming up with their own, but I’m hoping the Pinterest one sticks around.

Emma Roth, “Brave’s search engine lets you customize your results” at The Verge (June 22, 2022)

Is “Goggles” a swipe at Google? Or Google Goggles, a failed app from over a decade ago? Brave’ll probably never tell.

Many search engine users still don’t realize that the service is free because the big tech companies get fabulously rich marketing the information about what they are searching for. They legally share the information with other businesses or government. Network privacy specialist Russ White asks, if you think you have nothing to hide, why are Big Tech moguls making billions from what you and others tell them?

Inevitably, some have asked, if our attention is worth so much, shouldn’t we get a cut ourselves? Social media pioneer David Gelernter has offered a proposal for sharing the wealth more fairly. But some think cash is beside the point. White has insisted here at Mind Matters News that cash for your data won’t solve Big Tech privacy issues because privacy is a fundamental right, tied to the person rather than to a price tag.

Before we get into money issues, perhaps we need to grow the number of users who understand what we are selling when we part company with privacy.

You may also wish to read: If Google thinks for you, use THEIR search engine. Otherwise… Google’s monopoly affects the free exchange of ideas in the public square and our electoral process. Brave Search offers the first true alternative to Google since Bing by introducing a third English language index and protecting user privacy.

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The Brave Search Engine Survives. So Does Privacy Still Matter?