Like “Kleenex” for “tissues”, many people have replaced the word “search” with “Google”. In fact, Google has become an active verb for many, who will tell you that they have “Googled something” or are even “Googling it” right now. I’ve even heard parents tell their children, repeatedly asking them why something is the way it is, that they should ask Google, because Google knows everything. Which, of course, it does. In addition to delivering lightning-fast search results, though, Google is keeping track of your asks, and logging them.
Pulitzer-Prize nominated journalist Julia Angwin’s latest book, Dragnet Nation, examines the question “who’s watching you” and when it comes to Google, she personally doesn’t like how it is tracking her history and storing it forever.
“These logs could be incredibly revealing since they would show everything I’m thinking about: the plans I’m making, the places I’m going,” Angwin told Forbes Magazine contributor Caroline Mayer in an article on their site. Because of her privacy concerns, she switched to DuckDuckGo, a search engine who’s claim of “The search engine that doesn’t track you” is directly underneath the search box on its home page. On DuckDuckGo’s “About” page, you find out they “believe in better search and real privacy”. They also have a link on that page to donttrack.us which demonstrates how Google tracks your information and what can be done with it, either expressly or unintentionally.
As for the search capabilities, I tried it out with one of my pet peeves with Google, a site called The Delivery Guy which, despite having great, relevant content for the business aviation industry, with good keywords, a sitemap, page descriptions and everything you could ask for, it ranks poorly in Google’s search results. With DuckDuckGo, The Delivery Guy shows up as the first non-sponsored result. Hurray! You can see the results of that search here.
The other cool things about this search engine are you can make content-specific searches by throwing an exclamation point and the place you want the search results to come from. So I tried this with the words “Evil Twin” and “!PCMagazine” and it worked brilliantly. (An “evil twin” WiFi attack is a subject I’m currently researching and I suspected that PC Magazine would have written about it over the years, and it looks like I was right.)
If you’re concerned about your privacy, consider using DuckDuckGo. And to find out more about Julia Angwin’s Dragnet Nation, you can read an excerpt of it here or you can buy it from Amazon from the shopping cart link you’ll find on this page. Or, you can do a DuckDuckGo search on “Dragnet Nation” and !a (the “a” is the shortcut for Amazon) and you’ll get these results.
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