DuckDuckGo: What to Know About the Private Google Search Rival

Most of us have skilled the obnoxious aspect of on-line monitoring. You know, looking for a pair of sneakers after which seeing advertisements for these actual sneakers following you to the very ends of the web. Sometimes, you need a little bit privateness in your on-line expertise. Enter DuckDuckGo: a search engine that pledges to hold your search exercise nameless and never observe on-line. 

There are different personal browsers, equivalent to Brave, that block trackers and third-party cookies monitoring your exercise as you search the internet. But DuckDuckGo — which has invested more and more in an advertising campaign — sees itself as a direct competitor to Google Search, full with a cellular app and extensions for Chrome, Firefox, Safari and different browsers. 

After main incidents like the Cambridge Analytica scandal, folks have turn out to be extra conscious of how a lot private info is on the market to tech firms and advertisers — and are opting out of being tracked after they can, as Apple’s iOS 14.5 permits you to do. While it would not observe customers, DuckDuckGo’s app has been downloaded greater than 50 million times in the final 12 months alone — greater than all different years mixed since its launch 13 years in the past. 

Here’s what you want to learn about DuckDuckGo and the way it works to hold your searches safer.

What is DuckDuckGo? 

DuckDuckGo is a search engine that provides a cellular browser app and a desktop extension, each geared toward permitting you to browse the web with out firms gobbling up your private knowledge. It guarantees to hold your searches personal, nameless and gives built-in tracker blocking, so the websites you go to have a more durable time amassing details about you. 

Read extra: Best VPNs of 2021

How does DuckDuckGo work?

For starters, DuckDuckGo doesn’t observe searches made by means of its browser extension or cellular app. Other browsers, together with Chrome, enable you to use personal or incognito home windows that do not observe your search historical past, however their default home windows do. (That’s the foundation of each “embarrassing search history” joke.) Instead of creating you navigate to a distinct model of its app, DuckDuckGo by no means tracks your search historical past.

Searches made by means of DuckDuckGo additionally routinely join you to the encrypted variations of internet sites wherever doable, making it more durable for anybody else to see what you are taking a look at on-line. This is one other state of affairs the place each choices (encrypted and unencrypted) exist on different engines like google, however the default is not at all times the privacy-friendly possibility. DuckDuckGo saves you the additional steps of manually navigating to encrypted connections.

DuckDuckGo was criticized in May when researchers found that some Microsoft monitoring scripts have been discovered whereas utilizing DuckDuckGo’s browsers. The presence of Microsoft trackers appears to fly in the face of the search engine’s privateness promise, and DuckDuckGo’s founder and CEO clarified on Reddit that the firm is “presently contractually restricted by Microsoft” from stopping Microsoft scripts from utterly loading as a result of the firm makes use of Microsoft’s Bing to energy its search outcomes. 

However, DuckDuckGo stays forward of different widespread privateness choices when it comes to blocking monitoring knowledge, and the firm has clarified its app retailer descriptions to higher make clear limitations in its privateness protections. DuckDuckGo had additionally beforehand disclosed its partnership with Microsoft, and its CEO stated in the Reddit submit that the firm is working to get that restriction modified.

DuckDuckGo additionally actively blocks external trackers from following you round on-line. For a extra detailed clarification of DuckDuckGo’s privateness options, try DuckDuckGo’s blog

DuckDuckGo search page

The DuckDuckGo search engine emphasizes privateness.


Screenshot by Stephen Shankland/CNET

How is DuckDuckGo totally different from Google Search? What about Incognito mode and personal shopping?

DuckDuckGo primarily takes the reverse strategy in contrast to different massive tech firms like Google and Facebook, which have historically made cash by targeting ads based mostly in your shopping historical past and private knowledge. While Google has stated it is going to stop this practice, the platform nonetheless collects a ton of knowledge about you, together with your location and search activity — sure, even in incognito mode. 

Incognito mode merely deletes info associated to your shopping session out of your pc: your historical past, cookies and any information you’ve got entered into fields. Notably, it solely does that after you finish your session by closing out all of your tabs. So for those who depart your incognito tabs open for hours or days at a time, that info will nonetheless construct up. And it doesn’t matter what, Google can save your searches — and corporations, web service suppliers and governments can nonetheless observe you throughout the web, even once you’re utilizing incognito mode.

DuckDuckGo is totally different as a result of it would not retailer your shopping knowledge in any respect, and it blocks trackers whilst you’re shopping. 

A blocked tracking notification on DuckDuckGo

When you first use the DuckDuckGo Privacy Browser, the app will stroll you thru the alternative ways it protects your privateness.


Screenshot from Adam Benjamin/CNET

If it is not concentrating on advertisements, how does DuckDuckGo generate income?

DuckDuckGo nonetheless makes cash from promoting — it simply would not use focused advertisements. The search engine reveals you advertisements based mostly on the key phrases you seek for, which are not linked to your private knowledge like your shopping or buy historical past. Essentially, you will solely see advertisements for no matter you are presently looking for, not the bizarre product your buddy despatched you a hyperlink to final week that you just now cannot get away from. 

How can I take advantage of DuckDuckGo?

On cellular gadgets, merely open your app retailer and seek for “DuckDuckGo.” You’ll have the option to obtain the DuckDuckGo Privacy Browser app and use it the identical manner you’d use Chrome or Safari. At the backside middle of your app, you will see a fireplace icon, which you’ll be able to press at any time to shut all of your tabs and clear all private knowledge.

On desktop, go to duckduckgo.com, the place you will see a button to add DuckDuckGo to your browser. On Chrome, you will be directed to the Chrome webstore web page to obtain the extension free of charge. On Safari, you will be instructed on how to set DuckDuckGo as your default search engine or to manually activate a search utilizing DuckDuckGo. 

For extra about on-line privateness, try the browser privacy settings you should change right now, how to stop your iPhone apps from tracking you, and the best password managers of 2021

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