I’ve written a lot about internet privacy and security here, and I’ve given advice on which tools you should use for this purpose. Today I want to talk to you about search engines, and YES, this is something you should think about – for more reasons than just privacy and security.
First of all, let me remind you what a search engine is. The internet is a jumbled mess of craziness. People put websites, forums and all kinds of stuff out there and the vast majority of it is non-sense and it certainly has no relevance to your life. Search engines crawl through this mess of stuff and decide what is important for you or I to see.
In other words, the search engine is what makes the internet usable. It’s what creates order out of the internet chaos. Otherwise there would be no way to find any information that you’re looking for unless you knew the exact URL of a specific site.
This means, however, that the companies that control the search engines have TOTAL CONTROL over what you see or don’t see.
When you think about it from this perspective, do you trust the company that you use to search the web? Choosing a search engine is all about TRUST.
Now let me stay on the point of “choosing” your search engine. Most people don’t think about the search engine they use. They just “Google it”, or use the default search engine on their browser. Very few people even realize that they have a choice, but you do, and you should consciously make that choice.
So when choosing a search engine I consider three main factors; privacy, trust and how well it works. And I want to look at four options, and then tell you which one I use.
GOOGLE. I don’t think this is news to you, but Google tracks every little thing you do. They know what you search for and what you’ve ever searched for. How does that make you feel? Got anything that you’re ashamed that you’ve searched for? Well Google knows about it (if you used the Google search engine). They know what sites you go to, what videos you’ve ever watched on YouTube (also owned by Google). But beyond this severe invasion of privacy, do you trust the fact that Google has total control over what you see when you do a search? Google and Google employees know how much power they have and they are now actively trying to change your views on politics and other social causes (see more here). So no, I don’t use Google.
BING. Bing is a search engine owned by Microsoft. I probably trust Microsoft more than Bing, but not by much. They still track you. As far as manipulating search results I trust them more than Google simply because they are doing everything they can to improve their results and compete with Google. I do not use Bing.
STARTPAGE. Startpage is a search engine that I have used for many years because they don’t track you. BUT, they do use Google on the backend to generate the search results, so you have privacy and a search engine that works well, but you are still trusting Google for the search results. So I do NOT use StartPage anymore.
DUCK DUCK GO. This is the search engine I use now because it generates good search results, it’s private AND it doesn’t rely on Google search results. Instead it uses 400 different sources for it’s results. I think Duck Duck Go is the best choice.
If you want to choose a different search engine you also need to change your default search engine in your browser. If you go to Duck Duck Go or StartPage they will give you instructions on how to change your default browser. Or you could simply Google how to do it…(joke).
Also, in addition to changing your search engine, you need to have a good VPN.
Please ask questions below in the comments.