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Looks familiar? This is the quote from DuckDuckGo. The first paragraph you see when you enter DuckDuckGo about page, but, when you go on Wayback Machine and search this about page. You will find something interesting.
The Promise has changed
On Wayback machine, DuckDuckGo’s about page on January 8, 2013, you will find two key feature they offer if you decide to use their service.
- No Trackers
- No filter bubble
These two key feature is the main seller, but one thing you can’t find it on today’s DuckDuckGo’s about page. Yes, they do filter now.
So... What those features do?
If you are normal, not geeky like me. You probably will not understand today’s article is about. Let me walk you through it.
Have this ever happens to you?
One day you were searching some cat nips for your lovely and evil cat. Boom, there is an advertisement pops out after couple of clicks and show you various brands of cat nips you can buy, some of it even have some amazing coupons. That is what trackers does. They track everything you search, by some algorithm they did to your search information and push the advertisement to you.
They analyze your data and decide which advertisement you should receive, or track your behavior of various search results. That is how search engine service make their benjamins (get it? 😉).
In my company, we put trackers on every links to our ECommerce site. Our marketing team will analyze user behavior to improve user experience, or use the result to decide next target audience. Sounds acceptable right?
Today, people are more focusing about their digital privacy, tolerance of being track has reach the new low. Simply because people started to think they are being track when on the internet, random advertisement appears after a oral conversation or maybe some inappropriate advertisement shows up at important meetings based on their search results last night. (yes, your phone is listening to everything you said, I will write an article about it later)
People decide to lose those trackers by turning on the browser settings named “Send NoTrack To Websites”, but guess what? This is not that effective at all. It can be bypassed by various ways.
How about filters?
Remember the first time you enter porn site? You have to lie about your age. That is what filter basically does, but you do not have the control of whether enter the site by lying your age or not.
There is a lot of politics incorrect websites on the internet (it is kind of fun to visit, though). It can be search by some very simple keywords, but company will not let this happen since it have chance turn into bad influence to public reputations for their investor. What do they do? They filter these kinds of website out of their search result as much as they can.
According to DuckDuckGo’s filter bubble is kind of working with trackers, but in more advance way. Think of this, when we both search for bluetooth speakers, your first result is eBay, but I get Amazon, it is based on personal preference which we choose to go the most. DuckDuckGo promise there is no filter bubble on their search results. This was the most greatest concept of internet equity of the time.
At first I didn’t use DuckDuckGo as much I use Google, because back in around 2015, search results of DuckDuckGo is filled with spam and porn site. I often find myself digging through results by filter those websites. I know there have some progress they have to figure it out, so I still coming back time to time. Results are too, getting better and better. Around 2018, I fully switched to DuckDuckGo, and one day I see this reddit post from r/privacy on reddit.
Censor and Remove results
At first it did not bothers me, I honestly do not care about random porn site is being censored, but I put DuckDuckGo to probation. For awhile it does not seems growing, so I did not pay much attention about how DuckDuckGo threats their results. Last month a news comes out titled as DuckDuckGo will demote Russian propaganda in search results . Okay, this is understandable for me, based on the situation of Ukraine with Russia, this kind of adjustment is reasonable enough to keep public not effective by the... Hold on, this is filtering right?
If you stand your point say something like “It is not filtering, it just order the result from relative to relative + country!”. Alright, I am going to let this one slide then, but next one is not bearable at all.
DuckDuckGo remove results for major pirate site
Honestly I was shock when I read this title. I dash to their about page because I knew they promised they will not do such thing. This is why I use their service at the first place, and voila, promise is gone.
At some point, DuckDuckGo give up being uncensored, and not filtered search engine to user privacy focused website. I felt betrayed, after all these years being so loyalty, recommend their service every time I had a chance, this is what they ended up to. A search engine should threat all results equally, no censorship, no filter and everyone should get the same results by their algorithm.
I do some research after I saw this news, looks like Brave launches their own search engine recently. There is some really interesting selling point such as Independent search and Search without a trace. About censorship I’ve seen a post on their forum asking but there have not had an official reply for it.
I will give Brave a shot and see where it goes.
The fact is that censorship always defeats its own purpose, for it creates, in the end, the kind of society that is incapable of exercising real discretion, incapable, that is, of doing an honest or intelligent job, and thus guarantees a steady intellectual decline... - Henry Steele Commager