Sunday, April 13, 2014


The readings for this week reminded me of a new web browser I've been seeing people use called DuckDuckGo. I first saw it in the SLIS Lab when I noticed that someone had forgotten to close the browser window on the computer I was using. Its slogan, prominently featured on its sparse webpage, is "The search engine that doesn't track you."

I did a little more research into this, because I was surprised that anyone would choose not to choose Google for privacy reasons, especially when they were using a public computer and not logged into their own Google account anyway. DuckDuckGo has created a handy little guide that illustrates the concept of the filter bubble and also provides links about how to avoid being tracked online:

The mere existence of services like DuckDuckGo proves that people care about privacy and are uncomfortable when they being tracked and targeted by advertisers. People care enough to create a demand for a search engine whose main appeal isn't that it finds the most relevant or accurate search results, but that it simply doesn't track your search activity. DuckDuckGo was created back in 2008, but it has exploded in the last couple of years, partly because that's when the NSA's digital surveillance system was revealed.

Here's an article that breaks down the DuckDuckGo business model and how the company works with just a small team, led by Gabriel Weinberg:

As an addendum, I ran two searchess: one on DuckDuckGo and one on Google.
I searched "weather madison wisconsin" and came up with remarkably similar results. The DuckDuckGo page had a little sidebar which I found amusing. It read, "Anonymous adblock user,   [X]
We respect your use of adblock. Some of us use it too. Will you please make an exception for our one ad?"
When I clicked the "make an exception" link to see where it would take me. It took me to the DuckDuckGo community platform where it lays out in plain terms how advertising on their website works, and how you are welcome to disable ads but it would be nice if you didn't because, well, money.

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