DuckDuckGo Google Search’s Privacy-Focused Rival

DuckDuckGo Google Search's Privacy-Focused Rival

DuckDuckGo: The Search Engine Promoting Privacy and Anonymity

Online trackers can be annoying. You search for a product or click an advertisement once, and then ads seem to follow you to the ends of the internet, even across devices. Sometimes, you just want a little privacy in your browsing. Enter DuckDuckGo, a search engine that pledges to keep your search activity anonymous and not track you online.

There are other private browsers, such as Brave and the Mullvad Browser, that block others from monitoring your online activity. But DuckDuckGo sees itself as a direct competitor to Google Search, complete with a mobile app and extensions for various browsers, as well as a Mac browser in public beta. After major incidents like the Cambridge Analytica scandal, people have become more aware of how much personal information is available to tech companies and advertisers – and are opting out of being tracked when they can. While it doesn’t track users, DuckDuckGo’s app was downloaded more than 50 million times between July 2020 and June 2021 – more than all other years combined since its 2008 launch.

What is DuckDuckGo? 

DuckDuckGo is a search engine that offers a mobile browser app and a desktop extension, both aimed at allowing you to browse the internet without companies gobbling up your personal data. It promises to keep your searches private, anonymous, and offers built-in tracker blocking, so the sites you visit have a harder time collecting information about you.

How does DuckDuckGo work?

For starters, DuckDuckGo does not track searches made through its browser extension or mobile app. Other browsers, including Chrome, allow you to use private or incognito windows that don’t track your search history, but their default windows do. (That’s the basis of every “embarrassing search history” joke.) Instead of making you navigate to a different version of its app, DuckDuckGo never tracks your search history.

Searches made through DuckDuckGo also automatically connect you to the encrypted versions of websites wherever possible, making it harder for anyone else to see what you’re looking at online. This is another scenario where both options (encrypted and unencrypted) exist on other search engines, but the default isn’t always the privacy-friendly option. DuckDuckGo saves you the extra steps of manually navigating to encrypted connections.

While DuckDuckGo aims to protect user privacy, it faced criticism in May 2022 when researchers discovered some Microsoft tracking scripts in their browsers. The presence of these scripts seemed to conflict with DuckDuckGo’s privacy promise. However, the company clarified that it was contractually restricted by Microsoft from stopping the scripts from completely loading. DuckDuckGo has since taken steps to further restrict Microsoft trackers in its browsers, demonstrating its commitment to user privacy.

DuckDuckGo also actively blocks external trackers from following you around online, providing extensive privacy features. The company is transparent about its privacy protections and has a blog where users can find more information.

How is DuckDuckGo different from Google Search? What about Incognito mode and private browsing?

DuckDuckGo takes the opposite approach compared to big tech companies like Google and Facebook, which have traditionally made money by targeting ads based on your browsing history and personal data. While Google has said it’s going to stop this practice, it still collects a ton of data about you, including your location and search activity, even in incognito mode.

Incognito mode simply deletes information related to your browsing session from your computer: your history, cookies, and any info you’ve entered into fields. However, Google can still save your searches, and other entities can track you across the internet, even when using incognito mode.

DuckDuckGo is different because it doesn’t store your browsing data at all, and it actively blocks trackers while you’re browsing.

If it isn’t targeting ads, how does DuckDuckGo make money?

DuckDuckGo still makes money from advertising, but it doesn’t use targeted ads. The search engine shows you ads based on the keywords you search for, which aren’t connected to your personal data like your browsing or purchase history. Essentially, you’ll only see ads for whatever you’re currently searching for, not for unrelated products or services.

How can I use DuckDuckGo?

Using DuckDuckGo is simple and accessible across different devices.

On mobile devices, simply open your app store and search for “DuckDuckGo.” You’ll be able to download the DuckDuckGo Privacy Browser app and use it the same way you’d use Chrome or Safari. The app features a fire icon at the bottom center, which you can press at any time to close all your tabs and clear all personal data.

On desktop, navigate to where you’ll see a button to add DuckDuckGo to your browser. On Chrome, you’ll be directed to the Chrome web store page to download the extension for free. On Safari, you’ll receive instructions on how to set DuckDuckGo as your default search engine or manually activate a search using DuckDuckGo.

Embracing online privacy and protecting personal data is increasingly important in today’s digital landscape. DuckDuckGo provides a reliable and privacy-focused alternative to traditional search engines. Its commitment to user privacy, anonymous browsing, and tracker-blocking make it a compelling choice for individuals seeking a more secure online experience.

For more information about online privacy and the benefits of DuckDuckGo, consider exploring the five reasons to ditch Google for DuckDuckGo, learning about DuckDuckGo’s free AI feature DuckAssist, and discovering how DuckDuckGo’s app tracking protection beta is available to Android users.