With ad-blockers becoming increasingly commonplace, awareness of the issue of privacy is growing among web users. DuckDuckGo is becoming increasingly popular as a result; in fact, it is now the default search engine for Adblock Browser, which was recently released for iOS and Android phones and tablets. DuckDuckGo is not a new search engine. It exploded in popularity back in 2013 and has continued to grow steadily ever since; however, it is a long way from overtaking Google in the search stakes and DuckDuckGo’s founder, Gabriel Weinberg, believes it is going to take a long time before we reach a world where advertising and user tracking becomes regulated and limited in a respectable way.
Everything has limits
Weinberg’s goal is to bring trust back to the internet. He explains that every other technology-based industry, whether medicine, the financial sector, agriculture or nuclear power, has been regulated; however, there are no regulations for what online advertisers can do or the data they can collect. The Interactive Advertising Bureau American Marketing Association are both working on ways to make transparent, appropriate and non-disruptive advertising the norm. DuckDuckGo has signed the Acceptable Ads Manifesto, which has been adopted by Reddit, Adblock Plus and Stack Exchange, but there are millions of websites that have not signed up to it yet and may never do so.
Weinberg believes the best way to raise trust is to collect less data. He considers features such as Google Now excessive and says there is no need to track where a user is at all times. DuckDuckGo can provide good results with Instant Answers without tracking a user’s location. Although the user does provide location information with hos or her search, the search engine can just throw away this data − and the rest of the query − when the search has been completed. Why bother collecting more information than necessary? DuckDuckGo has reached around 300 million searches per month and believes that a lot of its users have set the search engine as their default, as it receives a consistent level of traffic. It is hard to pin down the size of the user base, as users do not need to create accounts, but DuckDuckGo is confident in its traffic levels and believes it will continue to grow as it makes it easier to change over from another default search engine.