In honor of my Caught Dead in Wyoming mystery series, my assistant Kay Coyte is writing for my newsletter and blog a series of consumer tips inspired by TV reporter Elizabeth Danniher.
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When internet surfing first took hold in the late 1990s, one of the top search engines was a busy, slow Yahoo site. There were few alternatives, but I liked AltaVista (maybe it was the mountain logo); others looked to Ask Jeeves (now Ask.com). Eventually, Yahoo sucked up AltaVista (RIP, 2013), and Google became the market leader in search.
In the 2000s, I used Google as my home page because of its simplicity and ad-free display. Little did I know …
Tuesday, Google’s top executive was on Capitol Hill in Washington, grilled by lawmakers on topics from online privacy to search bias to cooperation with the Chinese government on censored searches there.
My main concern is privacy, data protection and online tracking. It’s beyond creepy now how Google knows what I buy or look at, and I’m increasingly annoyed at the distortion of its search results because of ad-supported sites. (If you want an overview of Google privacy issues, here’s a good, short overview on a software review site called Hacker Noon.) Its parent company, Alphabet, reported Google had advertising revenue of $95.375 billion in 2017, up 24.9 percent from 2016 – more than double the ad earnings reported by Facebook.
But what’s the alternative? Not going to Bing (mistrust of Microsoft) or Yahoo (still too busy and slow). There are some good sites out of Europe, including Swisscows, which uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to streamline your search. But I like DuckDuckGo (maybe it’s the duck logo), which bills itself (ha, pun not intended!) as “the search engine that doesn’t track you.” According to a Lifewire review, DuckDuckGo offers “one of the cleanest, most beautiful search experiences” and keeps spam “to an absolute minimum.”
And now it might be even easier to find DuckDuckGo.
In a victory over the search behemoth, DuckDuckGo this week announced that Google had transferred ownership of the duck.com domain name, which now redirects to DuckDuckGo (instead of, ahem, Google). TechCrunch senior reporter Natasha Lomas thought that looked fishy: Google “quietly passing off duck.com now — after using it to redirect to Google.com for close to a decade — to a pro-privacy search rival smacks of concern over competition optics.”
You go, DuckDuckGo.