Online privacy: DuckDuckGo just wrapped a great year and expects a stellar 2022

Commentary: Privacy-oriented search engines continue to be popular. Google will be encouraged to protect its privacy.

Image: Ascannio/Shutterstock

It is not clear how many people care deeply about their online data. Facebook boasts privacy-protecting features that are not even remotely comparable to other social media platforms. 2.89 billion active users per day. And Facebook isn’t alone in this – it just happens to be above average in the scale and scope of how it leverages personal data to sell ads/drive engagement. 

DuckDuckGo. The privacy-oriented search engine was successful More than 35 billion searches in 2021This is a 46.4% increase over 2020 (23.6 trillion). That’s big. That’s a lot. Rounding error in comparison to GoogleSearch. 

It could be a very profitable and successful rounding error. However, it all depends on how serious you are about privacy.

SEE: Report: SMBs aren’t prepared to handle data privacy (TechRepublic Premium)

“I have nothing to hide”

Let me be an example. I’m boring. However, I am known to go on the dark side of the internet to uncover improbable Arsenal transfer rumorswe’re getting Mbappe!), there’s really nothing that I do online, or that I search for, that I’d mind anyone else seeing. No porn. No illegal downloading of music or movies (though I do admit to it). I once dabbled while waiting for the right to pay to stream …). Super calm.

That’s not to say that anonymity isn’t something I’d prefer. 

As you, I also search for things every day that aren’t. Me. For example, I might be interested in the survival rate of a specific type of cancer. But that’s only because a friend does. This is not something I want to see ads on. Sometimes my wife will mention an actor to me, but I don’t know their names. I do my research and find them. I’m only interested in the topic for a fraction of a second. This information is not going to be on my permanent record. This goes on and so forth. Most of what you and I search for is just random information. 

Google creates a dossier from those searches and other online activities in order to serve “relevant ads”. As DuckDuckGo CEO Gabriel Weinberg demonstrates, the idea of “relevance” is absurd. argued: “Almost every search engine’s revenue (including Google) is determined by the keywords that you use. They don’t know anything about you except your search history and the seemingly endless amount of additional data they have on registered and non-registered users. 

Our personal data is not actually worth much … to others. “Your data is worthless — it only has value in the aggregate of millions,” analyst Benedict Evans said. It’s still worth it, even though it isn’t much to other people. MeKeep it private. 

DuckDuckGo’s increasing success indicates that there are many people who agree with it and are doing something about.

Privacy should not be paid for

The most recent Washington Post-Schar School study73 percent of Americans believe that tech companies using private data to advertise is unjustifiable. Over half of Americans (57%) think that tech companies collecting private user data for advertising purposes is “unjustified.” They are grumbling more than they are grumbling. 

DuckDuckGo is also used by some.

SEE: DuckDuckGo is the best Android browser for privacy if you are serious about your privacy (TechRepublic)

This “some” represented a daily average of 100,000,000 search queries per day in 2021. This is up from the 2020 average of 79million searches per day. DuckDuckGo has been surveyed by 27 million Americans (9%) That’s impressive. 

The company is now Pushing beyond the search resultsYou can enable things like (even though you improve basic search with revamped results) email protection“Free email forwarding service that eliminates trackers from your email and protects privacy of your personal address” app tracking protection(“A new feature in our Android App that blocks third-party trackers such as Google and Facebook lurking within other apps”) and many more. 

DuckDuckGo’s growing reputation for privacy means that it is the most downloaded Android browsing app in major markets such as the U.S.A., and second only after Chrome on iOS. People care about privacy. While it is too early to call this a “trend”, DuckDuckGo has been a success, which suggests that there is something more. DuckDuckGo is not likely to replace Google anytime soon. Perhaps DuckDuckGo, just like Firefox, will spur Google to improve Chrome or, in this instance, the privacy features of Google Search. While time will tell, DuckDuckGo’s success could prompt Google to take action sooner than expected if 2022 is any indication of 2021.

Disclosure: MongoDB is my employer, but the views expressed in this article are mine.

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