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Colin Devroe

Photographer. Podcaster. Blogger. Reverse Engineer.

Duck.com keeps growing. You should use it.

In 2014 I linked to a post that showed DuckDuckGo‘s daily search volume at roughly 5 million searches per day. In 2015 they had grown to 12 million per day.

I hadn’t checked in to their stats in a long time until I saw this tweet from them. They are now averaging 67 million searches per day.

Their steady growth is impressive but I think this number should be much, much higher. If you haven’t already done so please consider switching away from Google for the vast majority of your searches on desktop, mobile, and tablet. It is very easy to do.

Why switch away from Google search? Having any one company own search is bad for a variety of reasons. And they are obviously abusing that power. Having Duck.com eat into that market share even a little will help force Google to be more honest, hopefully. Also, when you use Google they are using that information in ways that are helpful and ways that are creepy. I understand the benefits of making search results that are tailored to you – but the drawbacks outweigh the benefits.

Use Duck.com for as many searches as you can. Use Google only when Duck.com can’t find what you’re looking for. For me, that is about 1 or 2 searches per month at this point.

No, this isn’t an ad.

My personal data sharing policy

I’ve been online since 1994. I’ve shared a lot of information here on my blog, through various social networks, and to different services like Google Maps, Untappd, and many others. That information has often included location, photos, audio and video.

For decades I thought nothing of sharing my current location online. I used check-in services like Foursquare, Brightkite, Gowalla, Swarm and many others. Or I’d share a tweet or a post here on my blog about my current whereabouts.

I’ve noticed, over the last several years, I do less of that. I post photos here on my blog often weeks or months after I’ve returned from where I took them. I share them a bit quicker on Instagram – however my account there is private (supposedly). And I rarely tweet on the go these days.

In fact, I’ve also noticed that I no longer geotag my photos on Instagram or use hashtags that often. Mainly because when I’ve personally tapped on locations or hashtags on Instagram the search results are less than representative of the location I saw and are simply popular selfies taken at the location.

My desire to do a sort of personal data sharing audit has been slowly building. I will read an article about how Siri, Google Assistant, or Alexa is constantly listening in, or how our location is being tracked down to the floor we’re on by some apps and I pause, think about what I’m sharing, and sometimes shrug it off because I don’t really care if Google knows where I am. In fact, I like that they know where I am and where I want to go. I hop in my car and Android Auto suggest places it believes I would like to go and how long it will take me to get there. Who wouldn’t want that?

After all, what do I have to hide?

And then I see this ad from DuckDuckGo (which I use) on Twitter (of all places). It talks about the reasons, beyond criminal or mischievous, that I may want to protect my privacy. DDG’s reasons may not exactly be my reasons, but at least they’ve thought about it. So then I began thinking… “Have I thought much about this? Have I really gone through and made sure I have some sort of personal data sharing policy that I follow?”

So that is what I’m doing with this post. I started writing this post without having a personal data sharing policy and I hope by the time I’m ready to publish it I have version 1 of a policy that is right for me. Of course, suggestions are always welcome and perhaps I’ll revisit this topic from time-to-time to keep my personal policy updated.

Here are the main points of my personal data policy as it stands today:

  • Never share my current location publicly. I’m going to be certain my habits do not share my current location in a public way. I’m also going to audit any app or service that attempts to use my location data to be certain it does not share my current location publicly.
  • Download and remove all of my data from services that I haven’t used in over a year. I’ve got quiet an online trail that I’ve blazed over the last several decades. While I’m nostalgic for many of these services, and I hate dead URLs, I think it is best if I remove any of that data if I’m no longer using the service.
  • Evaluate each app on my mobile devices that use location data and read their privacy policies. In other words, make a more informed decision about what apps I share my location data with.
  • Delete any app that I do not use on my mobile devices that could use location or audio data. Believe it or not, many of the small utility apps that exist for free (like, doing fun image editing) have tons of third-party ad network code in them. I have dozens of these but I rarely use them.

Putting this policy in place isn’t paranoia. It is about making more educated decisions about what I’m sharing and with what companies. It is about being less cavalier with my own personal data and how it is used. It is about keeping myself and those around me a little safer – maybe. But overall, it is a gentle push to the companies that would profit off of this data to perhaps be more thoughtful and upfront themselves. And to make it just a bit harder on the scammers.

How to use DuckDuckGo

Brett Terpstra:

The search syntax is very similar to Google’s, so if you’re familiar with that you won’t need to learn much. Obviously you can just search a bunch of words, but there are a few additional syntaxes you can use to refine results.

Duck.com (as I like to call it now) is my search engine of choice across all browsers and devices. Brett’s guide is excellent and – once you get some of the tricks down to muscle memory – are real time savers.

I recommend you use Duck.com but also that you kindly, yet strongly, recommend that your friends and family members to do the same. You can even take the 30 seconds to switch them to Duck.com on their devices.

Duck Duck Growth

Two years ago I wrote about DuckDuckGo, my search engine of choice on all devices, reaching 12M daily active searches. They are still growing. Gabriel Weinberg:

We are proud to say that at the end of last year, we surpassed a cumulative count of 10 billion anonymous searches served, with over 4 billion in 2016! We are growing faster than ever with our first 14M day on Jan 10, 2017.

I like that DDG is anonymous. But I don’t use them because I’m paranoid that Google is tracking my searches. If I cared that much I’d have to stop using Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and also turn off cookies and tracking pixels and blah blah blah. In fact, I use Google Chrome and store my entire web history (and use Google to sync that across devices) so they know what my DDG searches are and the pages I click on in those results. I’m simply not that paranoid.

I use DDG because I believe monopolies aren’t good. Bing, Yahoo!, DDG, all deserve their fair shot at being better than Google at any number of things such as relevance, speed, usability, and privacy. DDG is the best way to search if you care about privacy. But they also have great features like Instant Answers and !bangs.

If you’re using Google why not give DDG or Bing a try? Maybe you’ll like them better.

Duck Duck Grow

In June of 2014 I mentioned that my search engine of choice, DuckDuckGo, was being added as a search option to my then browser of choice Safari. At the time DDG was getting roughly 5M daily search queries. Today? 12M daily search queries.

If you haven’t switched your browser, tablet, and phone to using DDG yet what are you waiting for?