Tag Archives: Search

New Search Engine DuckDuckGo Soars Thanks To Google’s Lack Of Privacy

Image representing Duck Duck Go as depicted in...

There is a new kid on the block and he’s giving Google a run for its money. The search engine DuckDuckGo has seen a huge spike in search queries. The little search engine that could has been experiencing a surge in traffic since January and things keep getting better for it. If you recall, Google announced that it would be introducing its new more intrusive privacy policy back in January.

DuckDuckGo is only four years old and it’s gaining popularity among many people who want to keep their searches private. DuckDuckGo promotes itself as being very respectful of the privacy of its users. Its founder, Gabriel Weinberg, knows that this is what people want – people are desperate for privacy on the Internet nowadays, especially since Google has been recently exposed as a massive violator of the privacy of its users (and even Apple Safari users).

Mr. Weinberg earned two honors degrees from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). He has worked in the tech world for some time now and has been really successful. He started DuckDuckGo in 2008 because he wanted to do something useful for the public.

DuckDuckGo traffic is up 227% and reaches nearly 1.5 million unique daily searches. This is really impressive for such a small search engine. It obviously doesn’t exactly present an imminent threat to Google yet, but DuckDuckGo is comfortable with their improving numbers.

DuckDuckGo vows to continue to respect the privacy of its users and is constantly working on ways to improve their search engine. Google better watch out :)

Thomas the Tank Engine

For more information:

The Toronto Star, “Search engine DuckDuckGo soars on un-Google-like privacy policy” – click here

TPM, “DuckDuckGo Aims To Beat Google With New Search Features” – click here

The Next Web, “Look at that DuckDuckGo! Daily search traffic is ballooning…” – click here

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Apple Makes Business More Difficult For Google In China

Apple Inc.

Apple Inc. (Photo credit: marcopako )

It is being reported that Apple will be ditching Google in China and replacing it with Baidu as the default search engine. Baidu is the dominant search engine provider in China with a market share estimated at 78%, while Google doesn’t even come close to that number.

Apple’s new operating system will integrate various popular Chinese Internet services – this will make it more attractive for consumers. This will further weaken Google in China, which is a huge loss for the company because the Chinese market is a very attractive one. Apple is making it even more difficult for Google to get its foot in the door. Apple also plans to ditch Google as the default search engine on mobile devices in China.

Recently, it was also reported that Apple ditched Google Maps and is now using a free crowdsourcing mapping service for its mobile devices. It looks like the battle between Apple and Google is getting even more intense and Google is losing.

For more information:

ITProPortal, “Apple To Replace Google With Baidu For The Chinese Market” – click here

DailyFinance, “Are Apple and Baidu About to Team Up on Google?” – click here

googleexposed, “Apple Tells Google Maps To Take A Hike” – click here

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Eli Pariser: Beware Of Google’s Censorship and Filter Bubbles

nothing but...

Eli Pariser is an author and online organizer. He wrote an interesting book titled “The Filter Bubble” about how personalized search narrows our personal view. He gave a successful talk at a TED (Technology, Entertainment and Design) event. His almost 10 minute talk last year went viral – it’s definitely something you should see if you haven’t already:

For more information:

ZDNet, “3 ways to disable personal results in Google” – click here

Networkworld, “How to get more honest search results” – click here

ITWorld, “4 tips to control your Google privacy” – click here 

The Telegraph, “Google and Facebook mean that we don’t know what we’re missing” – click here

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Pew Research: Most Internet Users Disapprove Of Targeted Ads And Personal Data Harvesting

Image representing Google as depicted in Crunc...

A report released today by The Pew Research Center’s Internet and American Life Project found that majority of Internet users are against “personalized” targeted advertisements. Majority of people are also against the censorship and “personalization” of search results which eliminates objectivity of search results.

The results in the report are based on data from telephone interviews conducted between January 20th to February 19th. Google announced changes to its privacy policy on January 24th.

The report found that search engines are more popular than ever. Most people who use the Internet use a search engine to find information they’re looking for. 73% of Americans use search engines, which grew from 52% ten years ago. Unsurprisingly, most people said that they use Google for much of their searches.

However, the Pew survey probed respondents on how they feel about search engines and other websites collecting personal data about them for different uses – a very clear majority of them said that they disapprove. Google announced on January 24th that it would start combining personal data about its users from its many products and services. Google plans to eliminate “the faceless web” and get to know their users better. They hope that by eliminating anonymity, they can start selling clearer profiles of us to advertisers. Advertisers want to target personalized advertisements at us – so that we are more likely to purchase products from them.  

Google also started eliminating objectivity from its search results, which means that everybody sees different search results depending on their interests and past searches. If one person searches for Ford cars in Texas and another person in New York searches for Ford cars – they might not get back the same search results. This allows Google to show you what it wants – Google basically controls what you see, hear, and know about. This is deeply concerning to majority of people, especially considering how ubiquitous Google has become recently.

The survey found that 65% of respondents said that it was a “bad” thing if search engines collected information about searches and then used it to influence the outcome of future searches.  Only 29% said they have yet to see anything wrong with it and think it’s a “good” thing.

An overwhelming 73% of respondents said that they are against search engines harvesting personal data about them because it’s an invasion of privacy. Only 23% said they are “okay” with it.

68% of respondents disapprove of targeted advertisements because they don’t like their personal data harvested and analyzed. Only 28% of are “okay” with targeted ads.

Unsurprisingly, the survey also found that vast majority of Internet users are completely unaware about the different ways that personal data can be collected of them, how much data is collected about them, and what they can do to limit the collection of data. Only 38% of Internet users say that they are generally aware of ways to protect themselves – most of them do this by deleting their web history.

Pew’s associate director of research Kristen Purcell in a telephone interview said:

“If we ask this question again a year from now, it will interesting to see if awareness is higher”

It does not shock me one bit that most people don’t know how they are being tracked all over the Internet and the many tools they can use to block much of the tracking. This is exactly why Google and the advertising industry are so vehemently against default settings on web browsers that would block third-party spying and tracking cookies.  Google is fully aware that most Internet users don’t know better and this survey just reaffirms what we already knew to be true.

Other recent reports from privacy advocacy groups – such as the UK based Big Brother Watch- found that most people were unaware of Google’s changes to its privacy policy and full implications of it. Only 12% were actually knew about Google’s new privacy policy. Most people are still in the dark about what Google is really doing. Regardless, this new report by Pew clearly indicates that the vast majority of Internet users are against tracking.

As the public get more educated on what Google is up to and they find out ways to better protect themselves, then we will all be better off for it. Mass education of the public is absolutely critical in order keep Google and other tracking companies at bay. The more knowledgeable the public are the better choices they will make for themselves.

To read the full report by Pew – please click here

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Google Wants You To Enable Search History Again – Just Say No!

Remember how everybody was warning each other that you must clear your Google search history and then completely turn it off for good? Well, Google doesn’t like that very much. They want you to turn your history page back on so that they can record everything you do.

Yesterday, in Google’s official blog, they introduced a new “search experience across your devices”. What this means is that if you did a search on your personal desktop or laptop computer at home, that search detail will be available to you on your mobile smartphone anywhere you go. Google’s new privacy policy allows it to now combine what you do and share it across all Google products and services.

So let’s say you’re planning to go out to a restaurant later in the day and you searched the address of that restaurant on your desktop computer. Later in the day, as you’re traveling to get to the restaurant, you forget the address of that restaurant that you recently just searched for. No need to worry. Just pull out your smartphone and go to Google’s homepage. From there you can click on the “Recent” icon and it will pull out your search history.

Wow! I’m blown away by this new search experience…hmm, not really. Anyway, Google says that in order to take advantage of this, you must enable search history again and you must be logged in when doing your searches. Give up your privacy to Google so that you can remember restaurant addresses – sound fair and reasonable to you?

If you insist on using Google, try to protect yourself and keep Google at a safe distance. I would recommend never enabling search history and never doing searches while logged on to a Google account that has your personal information on it (like your name, address, and pictures).

You can even make multiple accounts for Google – a serious account and a frivolous account. You can create a fictional persona to attach your searches and just lie to Google.

Kevin Fogarty, who writes for ITWorld, wrote an amusing article on what you can do to better protect yourself against Google. If you’re not going to stop using Google altogether, if you’re not going to turn off tracking cookies on your browser, if you’re not going to install free add-ons to your browser to block tracking companies – you can, at the very least, just lie.

“It’s not a crime; it’s not an ethical violation. It’s not even particularly rude, considering how intimate, complete and unwanted a profile Google is building of you. Protect yourself a little without hurting anyone; be someone else for a while. If it confuses anyone trying to keep track of you online, it serves them right. No one has the right to follow you all the time without your consent. No one has the right to know everything you do. No one has the right to insist you always tell the truth when they’re asking intrusive, manipulative questions without answers to which they won’t give you the free service they promised when you hit their site in the first place.”

And if you’re really creeped out by Google, then you still have the option to back up your files stored on Google and ditch Google for good. It is possible for you to download your data from Google and then permanently delete your account. You can follow the illustration on how to do this by going to CNET “How to” page about this – click here.

For more information:

CNET, “Google saves searches across devices with ‘recent’ icon” – click here

Google’s Blog – click here

PCWorld, “Protect your online privacy: Lie” – click here

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Wall Street Journal: “I’m Still Terrified” Of Google’s Lack Of Privacy

 Great video by the Wall Street Journal explaining changes to Google’s privacy policy. There is one thing I have to correct though. In the video, Julia Angwin says that “technically you can do anonymous searches” if you never logon Google services or stay logged on while doing a search. This is not really accurate because Google can and will still track you whether or not you have an account with them. Your browser, Internet IP address, your location, and your search queries are all traceable directly back to you. Please do not think for a second that you can still use Google services without an account and have this false sense of security that you are not being tracked.

I do love the great point Simon Constable brought up at around 2:29 into the video. He says that the technology editor, Julia Angwin, is “very attuned” to privacy on the Internet and is very knowledgeable – and yet even she can easily get victimized. Google knows this very well. Google knows that the average person is not going to know everything they should know.

 

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Google Breaks Down Relationships With Facebook And Twitter

 As the growth of Facebook was reaching incredible levels and surpassing expectations, Google was sitting increasing anxious about its own future. The rise of Facebook, and standard it was setting for websites to protect its data from search engine crawlers, could only mean that over time Google would disintegrate.

As reported in various news articles, Google and Facebook had discussions on how they can work together so that both companies can have a win-win situation. Google knew that it could not ignore Facebook for too long, so they decided they needed to have some serious talks with executives there to come to agreements. There were some important talks between the two companies back in 2009 where Google asked Facebook if they could get into the personal data of its users. Google wanted to index all that data in its search engine and it would pay Facebook for it.

Facebook obviously was not going to let Google’s money try to distract it. Facebook told Google that it could come to some sort of compromise where it would let Google into some of its data but Google had to promise that it would never build a social networking type of website of its own. Ultimately, Google refused give up its chance to build its own copycat social website and Facebook simply could never forgo the mountain of personal data it has of its users. The two companies parted ways.

Fast forward two years later, and what did Google do? It launched a copycat version of Facebook and presented it to the world as the next big thing. Needless to say, Facebook was not amused by this but the founder of the website Mark Zuckerberg did not sweat a thing. Zuckerberg often times gives very gracious answers when asked about the threat of Google Plus by reporters and is not nasty about at all.

Around the time Google launched its social extension, in the summer of 2011, Google broke off a partnership it had with another social networking website called Twitter. The partnership they had allowed Google’s robots to crawl Twitter’s website to retrieve live updates of activity on the website. For example, during the partnership, if you did a search of “Earthquake” on Google to find out information about the earthquake in Japan that shook the country in March of 2011, you would get the usual search results but you would also get a small box within the search results that showed live updates of Twitter activity. It allowed you to see all the Twitter communication where people were discussing the earthquake – live, constantly updating, and all within the Google search results.

Well, that summer of 2011 the partnership was no more and the live twitter updates on Google was permanently gone. Google claims Twitter is to blame for the breakdown of the partnership and Twitter blames Google.

It will be made more obvious how much bad blood there is between these two companies when Google launches one of its most controversial new changes to its services yet – and neither Twitter nor Facebook are happy about it….

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