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10 Reasons Why You Should Search Using DuckDuckGo

If you care about your privacy you really should consider DuckDuckGo as your search engine. You get the privacy benefits and you don’t sacrifice on quality as it is a full featured and powerful alternative to Google and other search engines. This article has been lightly edited from the original article on the hongkiat web site.

10 Reasons Why You Should Search Using DuckDuckGo:

These days, mostly, a search engine is the only source of information whenever someone is seeking the answer of a problem or a query. Usually, we carry out our search queries over the most popular search engine which is asked more than 3 billion search queries around the globe daily.

But, some other search engines with sound features are also available for users. One of the prominent search engines is DuckDuckGo and it comes with some amazing features. In this post, we are going to look at 10 reasons why you should make DuckDuckGo your favorite search engine.

1. Protect The Privacy Of Your Searches

When using, each one of our search queries is tracked because Google needs the information to provide to its ad paying customers and uses this information to make our future search results more customized and relevant. Check out how you can use this to your advantage.

However, our search queries will reflect personal and intimate details about ourselves (e.g. health symptoms and how to seek medical help for certain conditions), things that we would and should prefer to keep private. In such cases, many of us want real privacy to carry out our searches, preferring to opt out of tracking. DDG respects our privacy and by default doesn’t track our searches. It’s even in their tagline.

You can see and customize the privacy settings by clicking on Options Button > Advanced Settings > Privacy. Here, you can select that whether you want to get tracked while searching sites or whether you want the secure or insecure version of http. You can also define video playback settings under the privacy section.

2. Save Your Settings In The Cloud

DDG allows you to save browser settings over the cloud by entering a passphrase. It uses Amazon S3 storage services to do this. All you need to do is save the settings using a passphrase. You can then load these settings on any other computer, using the same passphrase.

Enable Cloud Save by going into Advanced Settings. Here you will see the Cloud Save option on the right.

Click on Save Settings, enter a passphrase and click on the Save button.

To use these settings on a different computer, just go to Advanced Settings > Load Settings, and enter the exact passphrase you used. Click the Load button to enable the settings.

3. Narrow Down Your Search by Region

While searching on DDG, a user can change the region settings to customize the search results to cater to the audience of a particular region. To do this, go to Advanced Settings > General > Region. Then choose the region you want to narrow down your search results to.

4. Search Results Are In Categories

DDG allows categorized search for a particular term or word. For instance, if height is searched in DDG then it will show top search results related to the term and search results related to mathematics, people, and places as shown below.

5. Retrieving Information with Fewer Clicks

Whenever a search is made via DDG, it usually provides an immediate, short answer. You don’t have to click in to retrieve the information. This is a handy feature which can save your time especially when you just need a quick definition or a brief big picture understanding of your query.

6. All Search Results Are on A Single Page

While using other search engines, usually results for an asked query are displayed on multiple pages. Around 90% of people check only the search results displayed on the first page. One reason may be the assumption that search results on the second page onwards are not so important, which isn’t true.

Keeping this factor in consideration, DDG displays all search results on just a single page. Just scroll down and more results will be loaded and displayed.

7. Ad-Free Search Engine

By default, DDG displays the relevant ads to the search queries but you can make searches without being subjected to the ads. To disable ads in search results, click on Advanced Settings > General > Advertisements > Off.

8. Searching with a !Bang

One of the best things about DDG is its !bang feature. The best way to explain how it works is to show you. On the Duckduckgo search bar, type in "!amazon breaking bad" (without the quotes) and press Enter.

This entered search query will take you straight to the Amazon website, where you can see the search results for "breaking bad" merchandise returned by the on-site search engine.

Although this doesn’t work for all sites, the command does support "hundreds" of sites. Check out the full list here. If you want to add a particular site to be supported, send your request here.

9. Cool Keyboard Shortcuts

There are many useful keyboard shortcuts you can use on DDG. For instance, you can use the j key or down arrow and k or up arrow for moving down and up the search results.

The other shortcuts are:

  • h for going to the search box
  • s:d to show the results in terms of date (new/latest will be displayed at the top of the results)
  • m for going to the main search result

The list of all shortcuts can be found here. You can enable or disable keyboard shortcuts via the Settings page.

10. Changing the Appearance

One can customize the appearance of DDG as per their taste. You can find this in Settings > Theme. There are so far 6 different themes to choose from: Default, Basic, Contrast, Dark, Retro and Terminal. Here is what the Retro theme looks like. Changes are instant.

You can also change the font styles, sizes, page widths, background colours, typeface and color for results, etc. This is under Settings > Appearance. All changes are reflected instantly. However for them to stick, you need to click Save and Exit near the bottom.

(Via Web design

Should we trust Google? or FaceBook? or Amazon? or Apple?

My intent is not to spoil your happiness with Google (I use some of their services too) but in case you are curious why I am questioning their business model and trustworthiness below are a few reference points.

Google advertises themselves as the champion of openness but when it comes to their core business that matters (i.e. in order to trust motives follow the money) they are very secretive and their business model includes a lot of misdirection (e.g. almost all of their businesses lose money by design because they are subsidized by the only thing that matters which is their targeted advertising business). Which of the mega-corporations have the most transparent business model and clearest relationship with consumers?

I wrote a short article about Google security and privacy issues based on some videos of interviews with Apple’s Tim Cook and Google’s Eric Schmidt.

Mathias Doepfner of Axel Springer wrote an open letter to Eric Schmidt about Google’s capability to abuse their power from a European perspective.

It may already be too late … resistance may be futile but there are things even the least powerful can do to try to move in the right direction if we know what that is. If our futures are going to be determined by mega-corporations driven by the profit motive what business models would be most beneficial and least risky to society as a whole? Free services to placate consumers while our private data on all aspects of our lives is being harvested for purchase by the highest bidder? I think not.

It is essential to build consensus on what model a better future should be based on. It is not so much that certain people are evil but that they are incentivized/motivated by a model that is not healthy in the grand scheme of things. Are current technology trends leading us towards the greatest good for the greatest number of people? Too much power in the hands of a few people/corporations who could monitor and control the masses holds the risk of our future relying on the equivalent of benevolent dictators or feudal lords. Privacy could be the issue that future generations judge us on.

Bruce Schneier on data privacy and Google et al’s feudal model of security

Bruce Schneier on privacy being a key issue at this time in history.

Apple Criticizes Google on Privacy

On Daring Fireball, Gruber comments on Eric Schmidt’s response to Tim Cook’s latest Charlie Rose interview where Tim contrasted Apple vs. Google regarding protecting privacy. Eric’s response was that Tim Cook is misinformed about the security measures Google takes to protect user information from the government and crooks. Actually the issue Tim was talking about was Google’s business model which sells user’s private information to advertisers. Gruber wondered if Eric was being deliberately obtuse. I believe so because it is much easier to try to frame the issue as a security fix than it is to address a fundamental difference in business models. It is not the level of security that is the issue. The problem is Google’s business model like FaceBook’s is driven to share more and more user information to their advertiser customers to generate more revenue.

Apple also announced and was experimenting with getting into mobile advertising, which is a tempting source of revenue, but I suspect they will back off on that because they want to use privacy as a differentiator between them and Google who they consider their biggest competitor. Apple’s main business model is for their customers to explicitly pay for their hardware products. This has the merits of being transparent. Customers know what they are paying for and are clear about the cost. This has been quite successful so far but will consumers continue to support a pay for product value model or will they increasingly be tempted by products/services that appear to be free? Google and FaceBook are taking the approach that consumers will opt for the allure of free and not think too much about how money is being made from users private information.

Both Google and FaceBook lure users with free services while hoping the users remain unaware of the high price they are paying for the privilege by having their personal information sold. Google and FaceBook privacy features further confuse users by suggesting that their information is being protected while in reality the deal documented in fine print buried deep in agreements nobody reads is that Google and FaceBook assert their rights to sell user data to advertisers (based solely on the criteria of advertisers willingness to pay).

True privacy is when your information is not shared or sold without your informed consent. Google and FaceBook take the Big Brother approach which is “trust us to decide to sell whatever of your information we see fit to whoever pays”. How much can users be confident that these services will have their best interests protected when this goes against large corporations maximizing their revenue? This is a definite conflict of interest and it is not hard to guess that the corporation’s revenue interest will take precedence especially when many users are not even aware of the consequences of their information being sold. Eric and his colleague in the interview further confuse the issue by only mentioning how sharing information with service providers can help them provide better service to users. They conveniently leave out that they go beyond using the information to provide services and that their main revenue source is selling the information to companies so these companies can more effectively target selling of products to you.

I am deeply suspicious and skeptical of trusting corporations whose business model success is based on deception and keeping people ignorant on how the company really makes money. A confusing business model that inherently deceives users about what the relationship is with them, what they are paying, and is a conflict of interest (selling to the highest bidder with no regard to the interests of the person whose information it is) cannot be a good thing. The question is, will people become informed enough about privacy to care?

The Price of becoming Unstuck

Over on the Unclutterer blog a new contributor Deb Lee has done a review of the Unstuck iPad app. It is a free app that asks a lot of questions about how you are stuck with a problem and then offers some suggestions that might help you get unstuck. Deb is impressed with the app and no doubt sees it as a real bargain as there is no charge. She mentions when she tried it that the app told her what percentage of users had a similar problem and even mentioned what celebrities like Ellen Degeneres fit the same profile (in her case the label of waffler was given).

I had previously downloaded this app and while I found it interesting and even potentially useful what was disturbing is that the terms of service states that all the information you enter into the app become the property of the developers to use as they please. That may not seem that bad if your results are mixed into the statistics provided but if you ever become unstuck enough to become a celebrity you could be singled out as a person who is an example of different types of stuck. To me this is a significant privacy concern if a person isn’t aware that they are giving up rights to their personal stuck data.

This is yet another example of the principle that it is rare that anything is truly free and you should check into the business model for any gift. Actually you are paying for the app by releasing your private information for the company to use. In general people seem to underestimate just how valuable this information can be. Detailed personal information can be invaluable to influence and sell to people.

If anything these types of business cases will become even more prevalent and undercover with the gamification of apps to make them more influential and collect more information in more subtle ways. You may think you are just playing a game for entertainment while what is also happening is that the “game” has been sponsored by an entity which is trying to influence you and collect information to be even more influential in your future purchases and decisions. It is necessary to protect against this by having companies disclose their sources of funding and data dispersal policies much like food products are required to provide their ingredients so people can decide if it is healthy for them.

The Privacy Payoff

Privacy Payoff Book Review

With the current news of Facebook’s IPO it is good to review selected chapters from a classic text on the importance of privacy by Ann Cavoukian the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario. Don Tapscott in the forward provides a reminder of the digital shadow that results from data generated from everything we do through digital devices and networks. Bruce Schneier recently identified data privacy as a key item that we will be judged on in dealing with the digital age much like how the industrial age is judged on how pollution has been handled.

Ecommerce and Privacy Roots

How much more growth would there be in ecommerce if people had more trust that their private data would be protected?

Earthlink is used as a primary example of using privacy as a differentiator to win and keep customers and achieve the privacy payoff. Good to see that the business is still doing well but don’t see references to privacy highlighted as a priority (last references seem to be from 2000-2005).

Parallels are drawn in the book between privacy and environmentalism which beg the question if interest can be sustained to deal with these long term issues.

Privacy as a Business Imperative

In addition to a cost benefit analysis this chapter highlights the importance of privacy impact and risk assessments, policies, audits, and training.

We Didn’t Mean It and Why Consumers are Worried

There is very real fear and uneasiness about the amount of automated surveillance that is happening even though most people have only a vague understanding of the types of surveillance that affect them everyday.

The Impact on Marketing

The impact of privacy protection on targeted marketing is a good topic as it gets right to the root of the tradeoffs while showing that with proper knowledge and execution it is possible to meet requirements in both areas. They can also be complementary as in the issue of identity management which promotes the protection of true identities or personas instead of users dealing with privacy issues by providing fake or incorrect information.

Privacy Through Technology

As information technology is rapidly advancing there is some coverage of Privacy Enabling Technologies (PETs) and Security Technologies Enabling Privacy (STEPs). Since new technologies enable capabilities that are a threat to privacy, proper system design involves using technologies to also protect and enhance privacy. As a former PKI product manager I appreciate at least the cursory coverage of encryption and other fundamental technologies but the treatment shows its age by not covering the layering and sophistication as hybrid technology mashups have evolved.


While the Privacy Payoff book is now 10 years old the authors did well to anticipate evolving issues and provide guidelines for advancing privacy capabilities. Mostly the principles and issues have not changed and not surprisingly where the book most requires an update is how new technology affects the issues and solutions. I would like to see an update to address the topics of social networks and software agents (e.g. Siri conversational interface). The impact of social networks is obvious and the artificial intelligence of social agents directed by individual preferences and policies will be a very interesting development as properly controled automation of privacy decisions is critically needed.

Facebook Security

Scott Wright recently made a presentation at an OCRI meeting on social networking security.

He has recorded a podcast interview on Facebook security.

He is also a Toastmaster who has documented the top three Facebook security risks covered in his Facebook Party-Pooper speech.

Then he provides a link to Tom Eston’s recommendations for Facebook privacy settings.

Steve Dotto has also done a Cybersafe DVD on social networking security which is definitely worth watching.

On page 96 of the July issue of Wired (and online at the link) there is an article on The Great Wall of Facebook describing the battle over the Internet and user data by Facebook and Google. Really compelling reading about what it at stake on the evolution of the Internet as these two titans battle it out.