What would our online experience be like without a search engine? Probably non-existent. What would finding something in a library be like without a catalog or a librarian? Could you drive around in a new city without a map of some sort? Well, this is not something we think about on a daily basis because it is one of those aspects of technology that we take for granted. Like the biggest one in the world, known as Google, search engines have been around for quite some time. Did you know that Google has been around for over 20 years now? Of course, today’s Google is an infinitely more sophisticated tool than the simple Google of the early 2000s. With time, technology advances, and that is how the world works.
On the other hand, time also changes other things. We now live in a turbulent era, particularly when it comes to how data is handled on the internet. User privacy and user security on the internet have been scrutinized a lot in the past few years because Big Tech firms like Google have shown that they track users and store data without consent. In some cases, like with Facebook, that data may be sold further to other parties. Due to these reasons, millions of people nowadays are searching for alternatives away from the mainstream. Alternative search engines, to be precise. For instance, DuckDuckGo is a popular choice, as are a few others which we shall get into below.
So, let’s try to understand what a search engine does and why you need to look for an alternative these days to optimize your data privacy and security.
What is a Search Engine?
A search engine is a software system designed to crawl the World Wide Web (the internet) based on user queries (what you write in the search box). Search engines like Google crawl billions of indexed pages and attempt to display the most relevant results by using several artificial intelligence algorithms. Nowadays, search engines do not only search for text like in the old days, but all types of multimedia, and even suggest things to you. There are several other legendary search engines out there (some of which have not survived, so we will not include them, hint: Altavista).
You may not be familiar with some of these other search engines we have today, in fact. These are; Bing, Baidu, Yahoo!, Yandex and others. Google dominates the search engine market, so other companies just float around and make what little profit they can. Currently, this list is beginning to change as people start to opt for an alternative, specialist search engines that do not track users or store data about user searches like; DuckDuckGo.
Why Do You Need Another Search Engine?
These days, people are more cautious than ever before. We now understand that the internet is full of scams and hackers, as well as surveillance. We know our browsing history is being looked at and that our cookies are being analyzed. Furthermore, search engines like Google are known to track users. The Big Tech world is not as friendly as you may think because data revolves around business and vice versa. Also, Google is neither a non-profit organization nor does it include anti-tracking features as some search engines do.
You may be habituated to Google now for several years, and that is normal. We all are. It has become the “default.” However, you should make the transition to friendlier, more privacy-conscious, and more ethical ways of searching. Searching, after all, is a private activity that we all take part in daily. After all, Google processes 70,000 queries every second, so just imagine how much the company knows about you. Over 4 billion people actively use the Google search engine. Let’s hope that is enough statistics to get you really thinking.
How exactly does Google’s search engine invade your privacy and security? Well, here are some aspects of it.
- Monitors your queries and what you type
- Remembers your search preferences
- Analyzes how you react to content
- Targets you with ads
- Stores your data
- Possibly sells your data to advertisers
Now, all of the above should be red flags to you. This is not to say that the Google search engine is bad; it is the most comprehensive and most popular search engine out there, after all, by a large margin. However, if you value your privacy, anonymity, and security online (which is a great idea going forward), then have a look at our curated list of search engines below that are worth their salt.
Now, onto the fun part. What other search engines are there that you can switch to? Here is the list.
There are more brands out there, and each one has a unique selling point. What is important for you is that you are not tracked, nor is your information stored by the search engine. For this reason, it is recommended that you use DuckDuckGo. Users familiar with Google will like DuckDuckGo as its design is quite similar.
Adding to that, DuckDuckGo is a competitor to Google, and they have made this public, which tells you that they do not share information. Secondly, DuckDuckGo does not track you, target you with ads or attack you with spam. It does not profile you, and it encrypts your search data. Now, what are the drawbacks of using an alternative search engine?
- You do not get the “full” experience that you do with a large search engine like Google
- You will not get as many search results as with Google
At the end of the day, it is up to you whether you decide to switch or not. However, you should know that if you decide to keep using Google, you may benefit from checking out the advertising and tracking settings via your Google account and opt-out of anything you do not like. This way, you will improve your privacy and security.