Duck Duck Goose: The Search for Privacy Online

January 3rd, 2017 by Jennifer Lough

Micro Visions Explores Duck Duck Go Search EngineIn my latest attempt to keep my persona off the Internet (a complete failure, given that this is a published work with my name on it), I discovered the latest must-use search engine: DuckDuckGo. It has absolutely nothing to do with Duck Duck Goose except that the creator thought it was a good name and borrowed it. Fortunately for Internet users everywhere, the man was a bit more intentional about the purpose of his search engine than about its name. DuckDuckGo is designed for privacy. The idea is that without any unnecessary cookies, tracking, directed ads, or user information logs, users can operate somewhat anonymously.

So, you may ask, does it work? Answer: Yes. DDG does pretty much what it promises, which is great. I’ve been using it for about three weeks, and not once have the ads had anything to do with my search history. It’s been a nice relief, actually, because my roommate and I used my laptop to find her boyfriend’s Christmas gift (a Speedo) and I hadn’t been able to escape the related ads since. I’m sure you can imagine my annoyance at seeing men’s swimsuits every time I logged into Facebook. In that respect, DDG is great. I’m not precisely sure how well it lives up to its promises about not tracking me, but reports indicate that the search engine behaves itself.

Like most things, whether you should use DDG depends on what you want it for. Google, for example, is much better at collecting the stuff everybody else is staring at. If you want to dig deeper and find less popular things, DDG is the way to go. Over the course of this little browser experiment, I discovered that it doesn’t do much good for fast searching, but the results I get are more interesting. For example, I needed a comprehensive definition for “smug” for a random project this week. Some search engines will give me the definition right off the bat. DDG makes me go to the website, enter the website, and scroll. All good reasoning aside, I found my personal blog far faster on DDG than with any other search engine, so I’m going to keep it. Except when I’m running short on time. Then it’s Google all the way.

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