DuckDuckGo vs. Google vs. Privacy
|Richard Harris in Security Friday, October 19, 2018|
The DuckDuckGo search engine has reached 30 million searches, but how does that compare to Google searches, and why I don't think people care about online privacy as much as we make it seem.
Online privacy is becoming harder to find - Facebook gathers users’ data to sell to third parties, Google tracks everyone’s searches, ISPs in many countries gather communication data, and governments are increasingly demanding backdoor access to encrypted devices. In the latest news, Google exposed the data of 500,000 Google+ users and didn’t disclose it.
Some Internet users are becoming aware that they lack essential privacy and cannot be sure that the information they share online will not be sold, leaked, hacked or stolen. Private data is used to build user profiles that can then be sold to marketers and other third parties - and it’s all perfectly legal.
Users are responding by adopting privacy tools in higher numbers. Private search engine DuckDuckGo just hit 30 million searches, and VPNs (Virtual Private Networks) are now used by 25% of all Internet users. 30 million might sound like a lot, but compare that to an estimated 1.2 trillion searches done every year on Google, and it points out the massive beast Google is. And besides, even if you are using a VPN, aren't you are just switching your traffic tp another provider that funnels it through their IP endpoints?
Still, the number of DuckDuckGo searches grew by about 50% from 20 million in 2017. That means people are being more cautious, or perhaps are just trying something new.
Top reasons to use DuckDuckGo over Google
- DuckDuckGo doesn’t track you like Google does. Google is literally one of the most non-private things you can do on the Internet. While they take as many precautions as possible to protect your data, wait - they have my data? What data? Exactly! So Google is protecting your data from others, but they say little about protecting your privacy from Google themselves.
"We also collect the content you create, upload, or receive from others when using our services. This includes things like email you write and receive, photos and videos you save, docs and spreadsheets you create, and comments you make on YouTube videos." (https://policies.google.com/privacy?hl=en)
- When you use Google, they track your entire Internet experience. From your searches, to the websites you visit. Just think about everything they touch, and that you are using; Gmail, Chrome, Maps, Search, Advertising, Android, YouTube, and many more. If they own so many of the platforms, and you use them in-between other websites, or stay signed in to them, they know a lot about you.
- Google filters search results, so it’s difficult to get unbiased results. They use filters like localization, past Internet search history, popular in your area, paid advertising, and more. You will get many different search results depending on what browser you use, at what time, and where you've been on the web.
- The Google ecosystem is a paid platform
Search "Best Hotel Prices" using Google and the top results are always going to be for Google services, or "Partners" of Google. This points out the biggest head-fake in Internet searching, and thats advertisers will always be displayed first because there is a second-by-second bidding war on Google Adwords for the keywords you just typed. They also use some of the data for ad retargeting.
Even if DuckDuckGo currently only represents 0.18 percent of the global search market share, it is now ranking ahead of AOL, which used to be an industry leader.
Top reasons to use Google over DuckDuckGo
The thing is, even though most people realize Google tracks them -they don't care. Here are some of the reasons why I think people just forgive the tracking, and get to the information.
- Google indexes the most websites. That means they crawl everywhere and anywhere as fast as they can. So they typically provide you with the most results, the fastest. DuckDuckGo often doesn't reviel nearly as many results.
- Too bad Google, but most ads, and "Top results" are ignored by users and I believe most people tend to skip directly to the "non-sponsored" links anyway.
- Google is the default search for iOS and Android phones. It's a privilege they pay a high price for with Apple - but that points out that even Apple succumbs to the search giants influence and realize they can't do "that" better.. at least not yet.
- A giant, is a giant. Google has been around since 1998 and if there is a staple on the Internet - Google is it. So even though we hear about privacy breaches, and potential security risks, Google works pretty hard to make you feel safe, even if they are using your information for advertisements.
- Google is familiar - even DuckDuckGo knows that and copies most of their usability in their own search results. "Safe search", search by time, ads at the top, results in the bottom. So when people search with Google, they know where to key in their search words, and how the results will be shown. And the interface hasn't changed that much since 1998. Ironically, DuckDuckGo duplicated this as well, but they do have more information about their platform as you scroll the page. Has anyone told them most people hate one page scrollers though?
Do people really care about online privacy?
This topic is farther reaching beyond this simple write-up, which points out a milestone for a company that is working hard to make a difference in privacy on the Internet. DuckDuckGo is on to a good thing, and we need more companies paying attention to the data we are consuming because even though it's electronic bits and bytes - it's still us, our profile, and our footprints.
But in reality we are likely just one "giant security breach" away from everyone jumping ship off any one platform, Google included, right... right?
I don't think so.
Facebook's latest hack - 50 million user accounts, testifies to the point that people don't seem to care as much about privacy as they do about what the platform offers them - at least not their "private" information they make public anyway. Security breaches and account hacking, seem to publish on tech websites more often than we want to admit. But I don't think it's met with as many gasps in previous years. But take Google or Facebook offline for 24 hours and people would probably go into a zombie-like state, hovering over their keyboards pressing the refresh key over and over until they see that all familiar logo.
Perhaps we need to have a conversation about what "privacy" really is?