Mind Matters Natural and Artificial Intelligence News and Analysis
search-stockpack-adobe-stock
Search.
Photo licensed via Adobe Stock

Life Beyond Google Search: Try the Other Search Engines

Recently, DuckDuckGo was found to be tracking users sometimes, due to a deal with Microsoft. No matter, there are many search engines now…

Search engine DuckDuckGo — famous for not tracking users — lost some favor recently, after its CEO had to admit that it does sometimes track users:

close up man hand type on keyboard laptop to use search engine optimization (SEO) tools for finding customer or promote and advertise about content online for marketing technology and business concept

Security researcher Zack Edwards this week revealed that DuckDuckGo’s mobile browsers allow some Microsoft sites to bypass its block on trackers.

While the browser blocks Facebook and Google trackers, DuckDuckGo makes an exception for some of Microsoft’s. Edwards found that the browsers allow allows data to be sent to Microsoft’s LinkedIn and Bing domains

DuckDuckGo said the exemption was due to a search agreement with Microsoft.

Thomas Macaulay, “DuckDuckGo faces widespread backlash over tracking deal with Microsoft” at The NextWebMay 26, 2022

DuckDuckGo’s CEO Gabriel Weinberg pointed out to disappointed users that the company was stuck with the Microsoft deal and we learn from the App Store that

While we block all cross-site (3rd party) cookies on other sites you visit, we cannot block all hidden tracking scripts on non-DuckDuckGo sites for a variety of reasons including: new scripts pop up all the time making them difficult to find, blocking some scripts creates breakage making parts or all of the page unusable, some we are prevented from blocking due to contractual restrictions with Microsoft.

DuckDuckGo is still generally conceded to track much less than Microsoft. But this is a chance to learn about and try some other search engines.

Exploring search engines for fun and freedom

Different search engines use different algorithms and/or presentation so using several of them reduces the chance that useful results are missed. Here are some industry ratings:

RapidAPI ranks its top 8 (January 24, 2022). They put Google first for up-to-date technology and, well, bigness — but admit that it tracks users and shares the data with advertisers.

The second biggest is Microsoft’s Bing, which RapidAPI staff like: “For starters, the search engine filters result in different tabs such as ads, images, maps, videos, and news.”

Then, there’s Yahoo, which is good for shopping searches though “Unclear labeling of ads make it hard to distinguish between organic and non-organic results” and the results are not dated.

Reliablesoft Digital Marketing Agency offers its own Top 10 list that adds the Internet Archive, sorted by web pages, books, video, audio, images, or software.

The Archive includes the “Wayback Machine.” You need the Wayback if you are looking for a page that is no longer online: “720 billion web pages saved over time.”

At LifeWire, Paul Gil offers a Best list (January 3, 2021) that includes Dogpile which “pulls from multiple databases for broad results.” Despite the name, Dogpile’s presentation of multiple topic heads is clean and simple.” That’s very handy if you are starting with a very broad subject area like “India.”

Gil adds Google Scholar to his list — that’s where to go if you are looking for a research paper.

Feeling adventurous? You could also try Baidu (China) which is is subject to government censorship and Yandex (Russia) which tracks you.

Then there’s Brave, which doesn’t track you. That’s handy if you are writing on an assigned topic and would just as soon research it in privacy. For example, if you use Google to research a night class assignment on venomous spiders, you may find the spiders creeping across the internet after you for a while, in the form of ads, promotions, and suggested topics. Won’t happen with Brave.

Computer pro Russ White recommends having a number of search engines on the desktop, to avoid habitual reliance on any one and to prevent any one of them from knowing too much about you. Happy searching!


You may also wish to read:

How search engine results can be distorted. Search providers such as Google are able to increase their ad revenues by distorting the search results delivered to users. Human data collectors (HDCs) have been able to evade responsibility for the preventable harms they cause by blame shifting and transferring risk to users.

and

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.


Mind Matters News

Breaking and noteworthy news from the exciting world of natural and artificial intelligence at MindMatters.ai.

Life Beyond Google Search: Try the Other Search Engines