Let me ask you a question…
You see that there is a global monopoly which censors search results on the internet, and you see that scores of people are complaining about this, so much so that politicians are beginning to take notice.
Being the industrious go-getter that you are, you decide to do something about it and start your own search engine which emphasizes uncensored search results and privacy from 3rd party ads.
Against all odds, your search engine takes off to much fanfare; people love the uncensored search results, and they really like not seeing all those pesky advertisements too….
Then just as quickly as lightning strikes, a petrodollar war breaks out, and you decide to royally screw yourself by getting on Twitter and announcing that you are going to do the exact same thing that global monopoly did—censor results.
Doesn’t make any sense does it? Yet this is exactly what Gabriel Weinberg, the founder of DuckDuckGo, just did in a series of tweets.
Weinberg was met with scores of people disavowing his product and his company, and if you don’t believe me just click on his Tweets and read the comments—none of them are positive.
The founder of DuckDuckGo wants us to believe that their focus is on privacy, and not a lack of censorship, but that is not what anyone remembers, nor the primary reason people use DuckDuckGo.
It’s just like the saying goes: you go woke, you go broke. Take a look:
The end of DuckDuckGo. https://t.co/ZWi2mAjISM
— Cernovich (@Cernovich) March 10, 2022
In addition to down-ranking sites associated with disinformation, we also often place news modules and information boxes at the top of DuckDuckGo search results (where they are seen and clicked the most) to highlight quality information for rapidly unfolding topics.
— Gabriel Weinberg (@yegg) March 10, 2022
PC Magazine reports:
Weinberg didn’t elaborate on the decision, or how the down-ranking will work. But his tweet comes more than a week after the European Union announced it would ban the “Kremlin’s media machine” for spreading propaganda justifying Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Since then, the internet industry has responded by blocking access to Russian state-sponsored media outlets such as RT and Sputnik News for users in the EU. In addition, Twitter has placed warning labels on tweets linking to Russian state media. (Google News decided to de-rank RT and Sputnik News back in 2017 for allegedly circulating propaganda.)
— The Laughing Man (@laughingmantwit) March 10, 2022
— David E Brady (@davidebrady) March 10, 2022
DuckDuckGo’s own website emphasizes lack of censorship as a selling point—so much for that:
When you search, you expect unbiased results, but that’s not what you get on Google. On Google, you get results tailored to what they think you’re likely to click on, based on the data profile they’ve built on you over time from all that tracking I described above.
That may appear at first blush to be a good thing, but when most people say they want personalization in a search context they actually want localization. They want local weather and restaurants, which can actually be provided without tracking, like we do at DuckDuckGo. That’s because approximate location info is automatically embedded by your computer in the search request, which we can use to serve you local results and immediately throw away without tracking you.
Beyond localization, personalized results are dangerous because to show you results they think you’ll click on, they must filter results they think you’ll skip. That’s why it’s called the Filter Bubble.
So if you have political leanings one way or another, you’re more likely to get results you already agree with, and less likely to ever see opposing viewpoints. In the aggregate this leads to increased echo chambers that are significantly contributing to our increasingly polarized society.
This Filter Bubble is especially pernicious in a search context because you have the expectation that you’re seeing what others are seeing, that you’re seeing the “results.” We’ve done studies over the years where we have people search for the same topics on Google at the same time and in “Incognito” mode, and found they are significantly tailored.
On DuckDuckGo, we are committed to not putting you in the Filter Bubble. We don’t even force people into a local country index unless they explicitly opt-in.