by Alessandro Ebersol (Agent Smith)
In the previous articles, I discussed how Google was born, how it watches over its users, how it harms both individuals and businesses, and now we will begin to see how to protect ourselves from Google.
Alternatives to Google
To effectively reduce Google's meddling in our lives, we must reduce its use.
There is one catch, however. Google, which was coincidentally born when the commercial Internet began to establish itself as a popular mass media and file exchange, unfortunately, is so ingrained in the internet itself that to have it completely removed from the users' lives can be an impossible task.
But we can diminish its presence and gradually undermine its influence on our lives to the point where Google will be irrelevant.
So let's see what Google's alternative services and products exist, and how we can slowly go down that road.
And, as Google started with a search service, there's nothing better than starting with alternatives to Google Search.
Google not only tracks your searches, but where you go online, what you write in your emails, who you send them to, and more. Its business model consists of profiling its users and profiting from it. It's much worse than being followed by a private detective.
You cannot predict who will have this information in 20 years and how it might be used. We already know that intelligence agencies are asking companies like Google and Yahoo to give this information to them. This applies to people who use Google, Yahoo, Bing, even if they don't live in the U.S. Thus, using Google search is a cumulatively dangerous act.
Alternatives to Google Search
DuckDuckGo (DDG) is an Internet search engine that emphasizes the protection of the privacy of its users and avoiding the filter bubble of custom search results. DuckDuckGo distinguishes itself from other search engines by not ranking its users, and showing all users the same search results for a given search term. It prioritizes the return of the best results, rather than more results by generating these search results from more than 400 sources, including crowd sourced sites like Wikipedia, and other search engines like Bing, Yahoo! and Yandex. As of June 2019, it had an average of 39,107,576 daily direct searches.
The company is headquartered in Paoli, Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, and has 67 employees as of July 2019. The company name is a reference to the duck, duck, goose children's game.
Some of DuckDuckGo's source code is open source hosted on GitHub under the Apache 2.0 license, but the core is proprietary. The company registered the domain name ddg.gg on February 22, 2011, and acquired duck.com on December 12, 2018, which is used as shortened URL alias that redirects to duckduckgo.com.
Qwant is a French web search engine, launched in July 2013 and operated in Paris. It claims not to employ user tracking and does not customize search results to avoid capturing users in a filter bubble. It is available in 13 languages.
The site handles more than 10 million search requests per day and more than 50 million users per month worldwide, spread across its three main entry points: the normal homepage, the lightweight version, and the "Qwant Junior" for kids, with filtered results.
In the development phase, Qwant searches were powered by Bing, in addition to its own indexing capabilities. Qwant also confirmed the use of Bing's advertising network. As of March 2019, Qwant is the 41st most visited website in France, and the 879th most visited website in the World.
According to its founder, Qwant doesn't want to compete with Google, but prefers to "show something different." Users can create a free account, which allows them to post to "boards", a feature with functions similar to those of a social bookmarking platform.
Previous prominent features, such as a Wikipedia-based Knowledge Chart (called the Qnowledge Graph), appear to have been discontinued.
In July 2016, Mozilla signed a contract with Qwant to allow them to distribute an officially sanctioned version of the Firefox browser with Qwant as the default search engine. Qwant currently has a Firefox browser based on the Apple App Store available for iOS.
When it was launched in 2017, the Brave web browser introduced Qwant as one of its default search engines.
The French government in 2018 decreed that all government searches would be done using Qwant.
In June 2019, Qwant launched Qwant Maps, an open source mapping service that uses the OpenStreetMap database to deliver privacy while respecting maps and routing. He also unveiled Masq by Qwant, an open source technology that enables online services to deliver personalized results from data stored securely on a user's device.
The namesake company behind the search engine was co-founded in February 2011 by Jean-Manuel Rozan, a financier; Eric Leandri, a computer security expert; and Patrick Constant, a search engine expert. It employs more than 160 people, spread across five French cities (Paris, Nice, Ajaccio, Rouen, Epinal) and has offices in Germany and Italy. The company claims it makes money through commissions it receives when users visit advertised sites like eBay and Tripadvisor from their search results.
Ixquick was founded by David Bodnick in 1998 and belongs to the Netherlands-based Startpage BV since it acquired the Internet company in 2000. Ixquick and its sister project Startpage.com reached their last daily direct query record (28 days average) of 5.7 million as of February 2, 2015.
Startpage is a web search engine that highlights privacy as a distinguishing feature. It was formerly known as the Ixquick meta search engine, with Startpage being a variant service. Both sites were merged in 2016.
The company also provides the standalone proxy service, Startpage.com Proxy, which is incorporated into the Startpage search engine, allowing users the option to open all search results through proxy. The company has also developed a privacy protection service called StartMail. This service was launched to the public in 2014.
How Startpage Search Works
You can't beat Google when it comes to online searches. Then Startpage pays to use the brilliant search results from Google, and removes all trackers and records. The result: the best and most private search engine in the world.
No personal data store,
Startpage does not collect or share your personal information. Ever. There is literally no user data on the company's servers. The company does not profile the user, and cannot be forced to surrender its data to the authorities simply because it has no data to deliver.
Clicking search results means leaving the protection of Startpage.com. This can lead to a cookie truck being installed on your device. For this reason, the company developed the "Anonymous Viewing" feature. With "Incognito", users can visit search results in complete privacy and keep browsing. They'll never know they were there. The resource can be found next to all search results.
No filter bubble
Other search engines use search habits to deliver results that they think the user wants, basically trapping users in a result chamber. With Startpage.com, the filter bubble is broken for a wider range of results.
Ecosia is a Berlin-based Internet search engine that plants trees by donating 80% or more of their surplus income to non-profit organizations that focus on reforestation and conservationism. Ecosia considers itself a social business, is CO2 negative, claims to support full financial transparency, protects the privacy of its users and is certified by B-Lab as a charitable corporation.
The site maintains a running total of the number of trees planted. According to its website, as of July 16, 2019, the search engine was responsible for planting more than 62 million trees. Its online shopping and search advertising revenue is donated to a reforestation program, currently in Burkina Faso. In November 2015, Ecosia celebrated 3 million planted trees and US$ 5 million donated to the environment. Ecosia is also available on mobile devices, one can find the app on the Google Play Store or iOS App Store.
The search engine at launch originally provided a combination of Yahoo! and technologies from Bing and Wikipedia. Ads were delivered by Yahoo! as part of a revenue sharing agreement with Ecosia.
Ecosia search results are now provided by Microsoft Bing, enhanced by the company's own algorithms. It is currently available as a web browser or mobile app on Android and iOS devices.
Ecosia displays ads alongside its search results and is paid by partners whenever a user is directed to an advertiser via a sponsored link. A single survey in Ecosia generates on average about half a cent (0.005 EUR). Ecosia takes Ecosia 0.22 euro (€) and 1.1 seconds to plant a tree.
Ecosia was first launched on December 7, 2009 to coincide with the UN climate negotiations in Copenhagen. Over time, Ecosia has supported various tree planting programs. Until December 2010, Ecosia funds went to a WWF Germany program that protected the Juruena National Park in the Amazon basin. To protect this area, organizers drafted and funded plans with logging companies and local communities.
By 2011, the search engine had raised over 250,000. In 2013, about 200,000 people were using Ecosia and 116,000 seedlings were funded by donations from Ecosia.
YaCy (pronounced "ya see") is a free distributed search engine based on peer-to-peer (P2P) networking principles. Its core is a computer program written in Java distributed on several hundred computers, as of September 2006, called YaCy-peers. Each YaCy-peer independently crawls over the Internet, parses and indexes web pages, and stores indexing results in a common database (called an index) that is shared with other YaCy-peers using P2P networking principles. It's a free search engine that everyone can use to create a search portal for their intranet and to help them search the public Internet clearly.
Compared to semi-distributed search engines, the YaCy network has a decentralized architecture. All YaCy-peers are the same and no central server exists. It can run in a crawl mode or as a local proxy server, indexing web pages visited by the person running YaCy on your computer. Various mechanisms are provided to protect user privacy. Access to search functions is through a locally running web server, which provides a search box for entering search terms and returns search results in a format similar to other popular search engines.
YaCy is available on Windows, Mac and Linux. YaCy was created in 2003 by Michael Christen.
The YaCy search engine is based on four elements:
A search engine that scans web pages and analyzes their content.
Creates a reverse word index (RWI), that is, each RWI word has its list of relevant URLs and ranking information. Words are saved in the form of word hashes.
Search and Administration Interface
Made as a web interface provided by a local HTTP servlet with the servlet engine.
Used to store the reverse word index database using a distributed hash table.
Search Engine Technology
- YaCy is a complete appliance with user interface, index, administration and monitoring.
- YaCy collects web pages with a web crawler. The documents are then parsed, indexed and the search index is stored locally. If your peer is part of a peer network, the local search index will also be merged into the shared index of that network.
- A search is started and the local index contributes along with a global peer search index on the YaCy search network.
Gigablast is an open source directory and search engine. Founded in 2000, it is an independent Albuquerque, New Mexico-based web crawler engine developed and maintained by Matt Wells, a former Infoseek employee and graduate of New Mexico Tech.
Search engine source code is written in the C and C ++ programming languages. It was released as open source software under the Apache version 2 license in July 2013. In 2015 Gigablast claimed to have indexed over 12 billion web pages and received billions of queries per month.
Gigablast has provided and provides search results for other companies such as Ixquick, Clusty, Zuula, Snap, Blingo and Internet Archive.
Matt Wells worked for Infoseek search engine until leaving in 1999 to start work on what would become Gigablast, coding everything from scratch in C ++. It was originally designed to index up to 200 billion web pages. Gigablast went live on July 21, 2002.
Gigablast supports a number of specialized searches and Boolean algebra operators. It also supports a related concepts feature called Giga Bits and a blog search feature.
A feature called Gigabits provides relevant information beyond what the user is searching for.
Gigablast also claims to be, as of 2010, the "leader" clean energy search engine with 90 percent of its power coming from wind power.
Dogpile is a World Wide Web search engine that searches results from Google, Yahoo!, Yandex, Bing and results from other popular search engines, including audio and video content providers like Yahoo!
Dogpile went live in November 1996. The site was created and developed by Aaron Flin, who was frustrated with the varying results of existing indexes and intended to make Dogpile query multiple indexes for the best search results. Originally, it provided Yahoo! (directory), Lycos (directory A2Z), Excite (directory Excite Guide), WebCrawler, Infoseek, AltaVista, HotBot, WhatUseek (directory) and World Wide Web Worm. He naturally made comparisons with MetaCrawler, a multi-search engine threaded entity that existed before, but Dogpile was more advanced, and could also search Usenet (from sources including DejaNews) and FTP (via Filez and other indexes).
In August 1999, Dogpile was acquired by Go2net, which was already operating MetaCrawler. Go2net was then acquired by InfoSpace in July 2000 for $4 billion. Dogpile received a redesign of its interface for the first time in December 2000.
The Dogpile search engine won the JD Power and Associates Award for Best Residential Online Search Service in 2006 and 2007.
In August 2008, Dogpile and Petfinder agreed to a research partnership.
In November 2008, Dogpile launched the Search and Rescue program, which donates money to animal-related charities. The program also helps people find help for animals in need. By early December 2008, people using the Dogpile search engine had raised $ 100,000 for Dogpile's Search and Rescue program.
In July 2016, Blucora announced the sale of its InfoSpace business to OpenMail for $45 million in cash, placing Dogpile under the ownership of OpenMail. OpenMail was later renamed System1.
- Category Links: Links to help users focus their search on specific categories like news, audio, etc.
- Yellow Pages: Allows users to search using the Yellow Pages.
- Web search box: The area where users enter the search term. Enter keywords and press the Search button to retrieve the results.
- Search button: The button pressed to search for results.
- Preferences: Links to a page where users can set a variety of custom search preferences.
- Spell Correction: Provides spelling suggestions for misspelled words and automatically corrects commonly typed keywords.
- Search filter: Block potentially explicit content for multimedia searches in the Moderate setting and for all searches when in the heavy setting.
- Statistics bar: Shows how many results were returned for the search term.
- About Results: Discover Dogpile's policies regarding sponsored and unsponsored search results.
- IntelliFind: Recommends additional content based on the original search term
- Are you looking for?: Offers spelling suggestions for words that may be incorrect and other search keywords that appear to be related to the original search term.
- Recent Searches: Track the 15 most recent searches. The list is reset when the browser is closed.
- Favorite Searches: Shows recent popular searches from other users
SearX (/ s3:rks /) is a free metadata engine, available under the GNU Affero General Public License version 3 license, to protect the privacy of its users. To this end, Searx does not share users' IP addresses or search history with the search engines from which it collects results. Tracking cookies served by search engines are blocked, preventing modification of results based on user profiles. By default, Searx queries are sent via HTTP POST to prevent user query keywords from appearing in Web server logs. Searx was inspired by the Seeks project, although it does not implement peer user result ranking. -to-peer from Seeks.
Each search result is provided as a direct link to their site, rather than a crawled redirect link used by Google. In addition, when available, these deep links are accompanied by "cached" and / or "proxy" links that allow you to view result pages without actually visiting the sites in question. "Cached" links point to saved versions of a page on archive.org, while "proxy" links allow you to view the current active page through a Searx-based web proxy. In addition to general search, the engine also features guides for searching on specific domains: files, images, IT, maps, music, news, science, social media, and videos.
Along with the best known instance on searx.me, Searx also features dozens of user-run instances under their own URLs, some of which are available as hidden Tor services. "Meta-searx" sites refer to a different random instance on each search. A public API is available for Searx, as well as for Firefox search provider plugins, and for an Android app.
Why use Searx?
- Searx may not offer personalized results like Google, but it does not generate a profile about the user.
- Searx doesn't care what the user is looking for, never shares anything with third parties and cannot be used to compromise the user.
- Searx is free software, the code is 100% open and anyone can help make it better. Your code is available on Github.
- If you care about privacy, whether you are a conscious user or believe in digital freedom, make Searx your default search engine or run it on your own server.
Technical Details - How does it work?
Searx is a meta search engine, inspired by the Seeks project. It provides basic privacy by blending its queries with searches on other platforms without storing survey data. Queries are made using a POST request in all browsers (except chrome *). Therefore, they do not appear in their logs or in your URL history. For Chrome * users, there is one exception, Searx uses the search bar to make GET requests.
Searx can be added to your browser's search bar; Additionally, it can be set as the default search engine.
Searx was created by Adam Tauber.
Following the DuckDuckGo search engines and Startpage (the former ixquick), Gibiru is the latest addition to the slowly growing group of anonymous search engines, and all promise to put privacy before their profits. Like Startpage, one of Gibiru's advantages is that you can use it to privately search Google's own databases, offering all the benefits of Google search, but without any privacy risks.
Gibiru founder and CEO Steve Marshall announced in a press release that his service is exactly what Google was 10 years ago. This comment exactly mimics DuckDuckGo CEO Weinberg's statement when he launched his website. Like DuckDuckGo and Startpage, Gibiru claims to allow its users to search privately, claiming that the site does not use your IP address or cookie data when returning search results.
Escape the Google filter bubble
The search engine used by Gibiru apparently follows a modified Google algorithm that allows you to get the search results you are used to from Google while still hiding your identity from Google's servers. If true, your searches will not be modified according to who you are and you will be free from the so-called "Google filter bubble". Gibiru was founded in 2009 by Steve Marshall.
Well, here we end the first part of recommendations for alternatives to Google services and products. I scanned the search engines one by one and was impressed by Gigablast, Dogpile and Gibiru, very fast and very relevant results, which is important now that Google is censoring results.
So continue with us next month, when I will continue this series, and, let's go, De-Googling ourselves, a little bit every day. I seldom use Google's search engine myself. Others have far more "out of the box" results.