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DuckDuckGo Is Now a Default Search Engine Option on Android in the EU (searchenginejournal.com)
586 points by cheeseyboi on Jan 12, 2020 | hide | past | favorite | 223 comments

DuckDuckGo is only private if you trust their word.

Over the years they continue to refuse access for a trusted third-party auditor to review their infrastructure and validate (or not) their claims of privacy.

The preference of Android to place DDG in Europe (31 out of 31 countries) is strange when considering privacy as argument. Then is placed this "info.com" as second option on all European countries (31 out of 31 countries) which is virtually unheard about, and again a US-based service which again raises eyebrows on privacy.

Europe-wide has a search engine that deserves our preference, and that is http://qwant.com

Precisely because it is built and hosted in Europe. Yet, it is displayed as the last option and only as an option for 8 out of 31 european countries. Very strange. Talking from Germany, the preference here would be http://ecosia.com

Not doubting you, but do you have any sources for your claims?

I will use Qwant in the future but at the minute it's not suitable (IMO) for daily usage.

Ecosia seems like a great idea, but these kind of 'Search and earn' sites have always seemed like a scam to me and I can't find any reason to trust Ecosia over DDG.

I'm a software auditor in Europe (per times consulting the European commission itself), mostly for open source licenses but also for cybersec and privacy matters.

This topic with DDG is recurring since years. You cannot verify the infrastructure, it is not hosted on EU-bounded servers and they have been asked for cooperation. Nothing moved as far I follow.

With Ecosia you are right. The point is that Ecosia accountable to European Law in case of scam. You can trust germans to close down the service if ever deemed to be a scam.

Not sure if you are aware of this (I hope it's not on purpose), but your personal website mentioned on your 'About' description contains some questionable content (gambling?) in indonesian language.

If I may ask, was it hacked, you lost the domain or you have put that content there on purpose to generate some revenue?

Thanks. Seems my own domain got expired some months ago and then taken over by someone else. It was old, nothing updated in years. I removed from it from the profile box, thank you for letting me know.

In the old days was just used for hosting a blog and some papers to share with others. I guess nowadays having a personal domain becomes increasingly less needed.

I'd argue it is increasingly needed, but it depends on your needs/goals ;)

You're welcome; I figured it was something like that.

Sorry "vultures" took it over, I would use something like GitHub/GitLab pages if you are looking for minimum maintenance.

What would be the practices for infrastructure review ?

Usually involves talking with someone on the architectural level (Chief Architect, maybe CTO, VP or head of engineering if knowledgeable enough). Then involves onsite visits, questioning about where the data is hosted and factual verification of these claims.

Depending on company size/challenge, you might do some tests on their claims from the outside over the period of 24 months. For example, registering an account and then verifying if that one-time email got leaked into some other service.

Or, on cases of higher-criticality you will have monitoring of what data is coming out from the datacenter where the apps are running.

Direct access to source code reviews is rare. Albeit depending on the level of cooperation it could be a possibibility.

What do you think about Startpage?

And, which European search engine would you recommend?

Startpage was acquired by an adtech company a few months ago https://www.ghacks.net/2019/11/16/startpage-search-owner-cha...

Yes i'm aware of that, but they were not 'acquired'... although it's definitely not a good development, i'd argue Startpage is still better (privacy wise) than for example Google.

> i'd argue Startpage is still better

Why would you argue this? Adtech companies are one of the big sources of problems with privacy online.

That one was verified and passed.

While sharing coffee with a colleague years ago, he argued that something smelled odd about them. In is opinion was a front for the CIA or some other sponsored group that harvests data.

Mind you that he provided no facts to support this claim.

I tried to inform myself as much as possible about them, about their technology and people working there. Very scarce info exists. Try it by yourself, then let me know if you do manage to find more info about them.

My only recommendation at the moment is qwant on the european side. Not because of privacy, but mostly to enable diversity of choice on the continent. In case of war or embargo, consequences here would be devastating on the tech-side.

I've had very good results with cliqz as far as European search engines go. https://beta.cliqz.com/

I find cliqz is very good at natural language queries, but doesn't have the index size a lot of the time. You either end up with 10 results that are exactly what you were searching for or nothing.

I agree about Qwant being unsuitable for daily usage. I had to stop using it after entering a search query via the omnibar in Firefox would sometimes fail, apparently at random, and redirect me to Qwant's homepage instead of the search results.

Wouldn't know. It works OK for me and I use it on daily basis across several devices.

> to refuse access for a trusted third-party auditor to review their infrastructure and validate (or not) their claims of privacy.

Which company would accept (and pay for that) given there's no legal requirement for it?

Here's a better test: DDG sets exactly one cookie in my browser, with a short value (not unique enough to track anything). Makes me trust them more than some BS popup saying "we care about your privacy"

I don't see why I wouldn't trust DDG in relation to their alternatives

> Which company would accept (and pay for that) given there's no legal requirement for it?

Maybe relevant for a company whose business model is built around the promise of preserving end-user privacy?

> I don't see why

Data storage and network communication occurring inside the European space alone, rather than sending packets from European users to elsewhere unknown. Being fully accountable to European law, with base offices and employees in Europe so they are subject to the same data-protection rules as other locally-based companies.

When looking at other alternatives such as Ecosia, Qwant: they do offer this and yet are seldom presented as a search engine option by Android. Strange.

> When looking at other alternatives such as Ecosia, Qwant

W.r.t. them I agree, but have they been subject to a 3rd party audit (honest question, I'm not familiar with them)?

I'm not saying we should trust DDG (or any search engine) 100% without proof, but the best way of keeping your privacy is not collecting data and it seems DDG is doing that.

We don't know what they are collecting. They could just as well be an NSA front and easily profile based on IP searches. In the end, American companies bend to US law. That is why Europeans should desire a European alternative in the first place. The workaround is using Tor.

A short cookie with a browser fingerprint will be enough for tracking.

Cool, are they calling APIs that give fingerprinting data? Using tracking images?

Because unless you have evidence they're abusing their data collection (as, you know, a lot of websites do) I'm not buying the FUD.

What makes you blindly trust DDG and give them the benefit of doubt compared to other companies?

You mean compared to Google and Facebook?

DDG is a tiny company that owes its small measure of success to building and maintaining a good reputation among devs and other tech-savvy, privacy-conscious users.

> DuckDuckGo is only private if you trust their word.

This a million times. For the same reasons why I don't trust proprietary (closed source) crypto software.

> Talking from Germany, the preference here would be http://ecosia.com

Which is essentially Bing[1], including the ads[2].

[1]: https://ecosia.zendesk.com/hc/en-us/articles/206153381-Where...

[2]: https://ecosia.zendesk.com/hc/en-us/articles/206019452-How-d...

> a search engine that deserves our preference ... because it is built and hosted in Europe

Why not the opposite? It is easier for the government to seize your data if the service is under their jurisdiction.

> Why not the opposite

Companies that are US-based can be depended upon to leak like a sieve with very little prompting. Given that, the EU option is the smart option. In the EU, there is at least a modicum of accountability and some expectation in the law (in theory but more importantly in practice) that people are respected and left alone.

Hadn't heard of Qwant. Looks like they do their own indexing, which is good to see. Definitely an engine to keep an eye on.

Ecosia is just repackaged Bing, ostensibly with a second filter/ranking pass over Bing's results iirc. Is there much difference between the two from an end-user perspective, beyond the ecology gimmick?

Ecosia is a small Berlin startup. They are profitable and happy to just relay the results from other search engines.

Qwant is far bigger. Aims to be a complete replacement for Google in Europe with their own datasets. They have difficulties in funding and their survival is mostly depending on public funding and eventually being accepted as default choice for companies across Europe.

From that perspective, it makes a huge difference when more people become aware that independent options exist.

> that is http://qwant.com

Plenty of pictures and distracting news on the front page.

You should rather try the lite version:


Just cut them out with adblock and you'll be fine.

Can't we have an open source search engine with publicly sourced "indices"? Anyone who wants can then crawl the web and build a graph of parts of the internet. The search part and the crawling code would be open source. What's the problem?

Here you go: https://yacy.net

What's the status with YaCy like these days? I tried installing it about 7 years ago and the results left something to be desired.

It is still far from being actually useful afaik. We need much more people involved I guess.

Apart from people, what are the main challenges to get to a stage where it is usable? My guess is that maintaining large indices is nontrivial in multiple aspects.

Ecosia is from what I can tell a frontend for Bing. That is again a US-based solution, even if their veneer is from somewhere else (is it? I can't find it easily).

As for Qwant, it says it's based in France but I know nothing about it.

Just from the face of it, it's not clear that these solutions are better (Qwant is a maybe and Ecosia is a definitely not). This ambiguity coupled with their relatively unknown nature could be one reason why the EU did what it has done.

as far as I know https://swisscows.com is also hosted in Europe

> Europe-wide has a search engine that deserves our preference, and that is http://qwant.com

Strange thing is that the domain qwant.eu is for sale.

Does it matter though? If you want some semblance of privacy, use VPN + Tor while searching anything, and make sure no personally identifiable information goes through it. Every company has to adhere to its local law, so expecting privacy is naive.

DDG's advantage is much less bloat and almost as good results as Google (in some areas arguably better), while not feeding their personalized ad machine. Qwant is worth trying as well.

"The preference of Android to place DDG in Europe (31 out of 31 countries) is strange when considering privacy as argument."

DDG Marketing.

It's somehow funny to see that Bing search results are so successful when packaged with privacy in mind into DuckDuckGo. I don't like bing search results, especially for Europe. They are just bad for many local things. The only other search engine beside Google which is interesting and surprising for me is maybe Yandex. It's also not as good as Google in (most of) Europe but it's interesting to see that many things are not censored away in comparison to Bing and Google (political correctness, copyright, nsfw etc. etc.). I'm happy there is an alternative with different culture and jurisdiction.

> It's somehow funny to see that Bing search results are so successful when packaged with privacy in mind into DuckDuckGo.

I'm kind of ambivalent about the privacy of DDG vs Bing (maybe I shouldn't be, but since I use DDG anyway, I haven't done the research) - I simply prefer the UI of DDG over Bing.

> I don't like bing search results, especially for Europe. They are just bad for many local things.

I wish Google was less aggressively local. I pretty regularly search for things on Google where I'm looking for the global/most well-known instance, and Google directs me to weird local results that I've never heard of and don't care about.

I live in Thailand and always get the Thai links first. Hate it because can't read Thai.

I'm in a similar situation, so I wrote a small extension that adds a new Google Search provider to the browser with US locale.


You could also search by visiting Google using this URL: https://www.google.com?gl=us&hl=en&gws_rd=cr

Shouldn't that change when you switch your region to "all regions" at the top of any results page?

That's my assumption at least, since my country isn't available as a region.

Oh that is another issue on Google. The local bubble is sometimes too much in Google and hard to escape. The problem is most people don't realize that!

I moved between countries in the recent years and also changed language in the OS from German to English (seems that is one switch of many) and suddenly many search results changed.

> but it's interesting to see that many things are not censored away in comparison to Bing and Google (political correctness, copyright, nsfw etc. etc.).

I am not aware that there is a censorship of things that are deemed 'politically incorrect' by either bing or google, and Yandex does comply with European copyright law and other EU legislation like the right-to-be-forgotten.

As an illusory example only, and definitely not as an endorsement, and chosen only because it is the extremes of acceptable speach that are most likely to be censured; consider these search results for "Daily Stormer"



DDG provides the link to the site as their first result; Google provides links to information about the site.

Again, I am not endorsing the site; it is simply an obvious example of search result differentiation between DDG and Google.

Google knows that when I type 'rails' into their search box I mean Ruby on Rails and gives me relevant results, instead of railroad tracks or hand rails.

It's not a big leap to think they'd do that globally for extreme results like DS where most people want to know about them and not actually visit the site.

So at what point will Google look at your search history and decide that you are looking for racism when you search for a racist term?

I don’t think anyone on here will admit if it’s happening to them, but if the answer is never then that means Google is suppressing the “best” search results due to political reasons.

For a less charged example, Google won’t show pornography as the first result for a fetish term, ever. It will always show a clean page with Wikipedia as the first result regardless of safe search.

How do you even get it to show non safe for work results?

> decide that you are looking for racism

Given that there are definitely people that I have personally met that keep complaining "they keep getting racist results" in Google and Youtube, I'm guessing we are already there. As for how they build up this profile, I'm sure the people that actually know aren't allowed to tell us.

It's a website. Shouldn't your first stop be visiting the site itself to form your own opinion?

You still can, obviously.

It's simply more probable that I would prefer a site that contains expert analysis of a topic/subject first.

Yes but in many countries this can get you into legal trouble.

A stark difference. Is Google on the record about what their view is on this sort of thing?

I suppose the two scenarios that leap to mind are (1) Google is social engineering or (2) they have good reason to believe that nobody searching for the Daily Stormer actually wants to see the website. It'd be interesting to know if there is a 3rd.

I wonder if the rank is based on which options are clicked the most... I wouldn't put it past google to keep track of which link is clicked the most for each search and use that to 'improve the links'


It could be a massive conspiracy to keep people from seeing some third rate website.

You notice that the results aren't direct links, but redirects through Google first? That seems to support your first alternative.

They don't need to reroute through a url to do tracking, they could do that in JS. The rerouting probably is used for tracking but it also serves the purpose of flushing your search terms out of the referer header.

Maybe they have an AI that ingests thinkpieces and twitter feeds lambasting them for insufficient censorship, and based on the strength of sentiment and number of retweets apply additional censorship to the specific examples listed, with the cost function being something like f(likelihood_of_negative_public_opinion) + g(impact_on_search_quality).

If I were to do this I'd allow penalized results to resurface from time to time, and leave it up if nobody tweets too hard.

The first thing I see on DDG is the Wikipedia page describing their site. They must be reading this.

I know that website has been heavily censored, so it's possible there is fool play here, but it's also possible that it's simply different algorithms.

If Google weighs links to a certain page, it's not a stretch to imagine that fewer websites would directly link to that particular website, and refer to its name instead. But maybe Bing has some rule that gives priority to the domain name.

Well there's a few things in here:


Am a staunch gun-control type, but there certainly has been evidence of google censoring political causes they disagree with. This is not the way forward. It's incredibly hard to have a discussion with someone who clearly has a point about the masses being dictated what they see/think by a Google search. These sort of things do not advance civil discourse and only serve to inflame it in an "us against them" mentality.

It became increasingly hard to find EPUBs with DDG or Google.

I can recommend to just use a NZB search engine for it (during Black Friday deals you can get a for life account for 10-30 EUR). Combined with a Usenet block server (also available cheap during sales), this should not cost you much data or money. And you can use it for Sonarr/Radarr as well, if you want to burn some more data.

Speaking of searching, does Qwant support dorks (no pun intended)?

Is it really? Looking for Calibre libraries is basically considered meme-level effort in places like /r/opendirectories ...

Just because it's in /r/opendirectories doesn't mean it's in google or on the first pages.

What I meant is, the sub is full of cut-and-paste suggestions on how to make google searches for that sort of thing, because it really is trivial. This stuff is in google. Maybe it's de-emphasized by algos, but it's definitely there.

There are differences in search results for sure. Political correctness is also a very broad field. Depending on topic it is sometimes biased and even filtered (e.g. nsfw content) by Google/Bing or search results in Google are too much SEO hacked in comparison to Yandex on first pages. I've never analysed in deep and don't have numbers but for some searches it is worth to check also Yandex.

But to be fair Google is often better... it depends on the topic you search for.

When I was in Russia, I was constantly surprised by the quality of Yandex's services. Their map data was far superior to Google Maps and their cab app felt better than Uber.

> Their map data was far superior to Google Maps and their cab app felt better than Uber.


Haven't been to Russia or used Yandex, but I'd guess that the Russian Govt/Agencies give more accurate/up-to-date data to a Russian company instead of Google? This and a local presence to understand local nuances etc.

Google is capable of providing inferior service all on its own, no shady stuff required.

E.g. http://www.framecompare.com/image-compare/screenshotcomparis...

> It's somehow funny to see that Bing search results are so successful when packaged with privacy in mind

My understanding is that Bing only provides the index, not the search result

Do you have an objective (or at least intersubjective) measure for search result quality which could provide some evidence for your claim?

Right now you are grounding on anecdotal evidence which is generally accepted to be a quite weak form of argument.

I am asking out if interest because I am a happy user of ddg and wonder what I am missing out on? Are my needs so different from other users that I don’t have the issue that you are describing at all? Are you sure it’s not just a “this is slightly different so it must be worse” type situation?

Notice that there are entirely no NSFW images on DDG. This is a big hole right where content should be, and basically voids all claims to anti-censorship street cred.

I assume you’ve got Safe Search turned on? There’s three options: on (default), moderate or off.

There was a period some time ago when image searches are always SFW even with safe search off. I guess this is no longer the case (checked just now).

If anything, DDG is a bit too quick to suggest NSFW results if you don't have the NSFW filter on max.

Same for Google in comparison to Yandex. This is a kind of censorship in my opinion and as a full grown up adult it's my decision what I want to see.

I suffer through DDG to avoid Google, but it's not pretty. Especially for terms with ambiguous meaning, DDG just performs way worse than Google.

For example, the tensorflow terminology for reducing dimensionality is "squeeze" and the scipy Gaussian distributing is called "normal".

A DDG query for "python squeeze normal" shows me stuff about the animal. Google correctly infers that I want programming advice.

I also really don't get why when I search for a TensorFlow function name, DDG will show me random pages with code examples instead of the official manual page for that function, which has my exact search query as meta title and as top h1.

Just tried it in DDG the top 3 results for ‘python squeeze normal’ were for something called numpty.squeeze()

I have a different problem. When searching for stackoverflow style answers DDG almost always shows years old questions that no longer apply

Something that doesn't sit well with me about DuckDuckGo is their hidden use of affiliate links to Amazon and eBay. Fundamentally search engines are vulnerable to predatory business models. Privacy is one issue. Providing financially motivated information is another. To my knowledge (would love to hear more), Google is pretty up front about what is an ad and what isn't while DuckDuckGo covertly sells you to Amazon when you might want to buy something.

While DuckDuckGo seems to be enjoying some halo effect in some communities at the moment (Google once enjoyed a similar glow), I think that general skepticism is probably a healthy orientation toward search engines.

Hi blululu,

You'll notice when you search for an item like "Airpods" the shopping instant answer appears including products from Amazon.

The top right of that placement (https://i.imgur.com/EIpFjVR.png) you'll see it is noted that this is an ad. These links are eligible for affiliate commission as outlined in our help pages (https://help.duckduckgo.com/duckduckgo-help-pages/company/ad...). Even in this situation, no personally identifiable information is shared with Amazon.

Amazon links that appear in the organic results are not affiliated.

eBay links that appear in the organic results may be affiliated. As per our policy, this has no impact on their organic ranking or appearance - and no information is shared with eBay.

We agree that general skepticism is healthy, and try to make clear that any element which has its placement changed, or elevated because of a financial incentive is labelled as an ad.

If there is something unclear about that, we'd always love to hear more user feedback!

Fair - I had not noticed the ad labels before. Thanks for the response. Putting the label in the top right corner instead of the bottom left does feel like a bit of a dark pattern. DuckDuckGo's page layout clearly reflects the classic F pattern of visual attention, and the ad label is not very prominent.

I don't know what you intend "hidden" to mean, but they're not lying about it:

> DuckDuckGo is part of the affiliate programs of the eCommerce websites Amazon and eBay. When you visit those sites through DuckDuckGo, including when using !bangs, and subsequently make a purchase, we receive a small commission.

> This mechanism operates anonymously and there is no personally identifiable information exchanged between us and Amazon or eBay. These links are regular organic links (like any other link in our results) and these programs do not influence our ranking or relevancy functions in any way. That is, they are not advertising like paid placements or paid inclusions, and we only generate revenue from them if you ultimately find them relevant enough to end up purchasing an item.


Qwant does this, too.

As long as they don't alter the search results to give those links an advantage, I have no problem with them using affiliate links. It makes them money to absolutely no loss to me, right?

If for convenience I search for "Amazon product X" on my browser bar instead of directly on Amazon, that means that in order for Amazon to generate a certain amount of profit on that product they also have to pay my search engine now, which means all other things equal, this costs me money.

Of course in real life it's not that simple a situation but it's easy to see that everyone behaving like this ends up with the consumer essentially losing money.

>they also have to pay my search engine now, which means all other things equal, this costs me money.

Most customer focused companies could save a pretty sum of money by not advertising. Of cause it may hurt overall sales to not advertise.

The price on Amazon is based on what the market will pay. If they could charge more, they would do so.

The only one losing money is Jeff Bezos.

From what I understand, affiliate links pay out only when you buy something. Traditionally, this was taken from the seller's margin and the price of the product was not increased, as the higher volume of sales made up multiple times for the loss from commissions.

But since Amazon gets nothing from the "passive" affiliate links (ones that don't increase volume), DDG might be big enough to make them have to compensate. Would be interesting to see the numbers for this...

IMO there is a privacy loss to you. Amazon should not get to know what search engine you use.

That's fair, but the Referrer header already does that. It can be blocked, true, but either way this is just a single literal bit of data - I don't mind, but I see how someone might.

An argument could also be made, that this is beneficial to me, as if Amazon finds a lot of traffic from DDG, they might be more inclined to buy ad space with them, giving better funding to a service I like.

The HTTP Referer header is a horrible bug that should never have been part of the web IMO. When I tell laypeople that this happens they're often very surprised.

They just see your referrer anyway, doesn’t really matter if they have affiliate tags or not.

I'm more than fine with this approach (assuming you're made aware of it being an affiliate link), especially when the alternative is giving up my privacy to a glorified advertising company.

Honestly, I've been using ddg daily and I find I'm having to hit !g more than I'd like. Google in particular seems better at finding matches that come related to the ordering of the words, whereas ddg I have to quote them (and risk getting no results because I misremembered one word) when searching for a specific phrase.

My experience is that google gives me results assuming all of the words I searched aren’t the words I’m looking for, and it uses tangentially related words in place of everything. Even quotes are useless now.

Ddg is useless when I’m searching for local things like restaurants and whatnot, but for general searches, it gives me what I’m actually looking for at least 75% of the time. With google, I’m barely hitting 25% these days unless it’s a very well established phrase/concept that I’m searching. In which case, it’s basically functioning as a Wikipedia search engine.

In my experience Google is a lot better if you don’t know what your searching for (the search “movie head box” returns the movie Se7en in Google and some old movie called “Head” on DDG) but infuriating if you do, as it will provide 6 ads, 8 different “answer boxes” and then link to low quality spam sites below that.

Can confirm that Google doesn't honor quotes as it used to for exact match search these days. It's a hit and miss.

Can someone who knows about the inside of Google tell us why this happened, and especially why it happens when verbatim mode is used alone or in addition to double quotes?

I can kind of see why double quotes could be confusing for people pasting without being aware of the double quotes rule, but ignoring verbatim outright as has been the standard for years now is even more confusing to me.

Usually when people have this concern, it's because the page they are looking for does not exist.

I'd like to see examples where you do a search looking for a specific page, either with or without verbatim or double-quotes, and then find it via some other query. Sure, it happens, but it's very rare.

>it's because the page they are looking for does not exist.

I could see that argument holding water if other search engines didn't give me precisely what I searched for. Google just simply tries to be smart and assume I'm looking for something other than what I input, while completely ignoring my input and replacing it entirely.

Give a few examples of it.

Theres a good chance whatever page you were after had a robots.txt excluding googlebot.

I think it shows up now?

Yes - I think you've hit a case where fresh content isn't indexed for phrases only keywords. That latter indexing usually takes a few hours, depending on which data center you hit and load.

Ok. It shows up now and your explanation is reasonable. Thanks!

I don't have more examples right now.

In my experience Google is a lot better if you don’t know what your searching for (the search “movie head box” returns the movie Se7en in Google and some old movie called “Head” on DDG) but infuriating if you do, as it will provide 6 ads, 8 different “answer boxes” and then link to low quality spam sites below that.

Exactly this. I use DDG by default but if I have any ambiguity in my search term, I'll automatically do !g

Same here, I switched to DDG as my default engine at work and find it returns mediocre results for anything tech related and sufficiently niche.

On the plus side, it does work fine for everything else - i.e. the typical searches a normal person might do - so I might switch my personal devices to using it soon.

Try !s (Startpage, which is based on Google’s index)

Didn't Startpage change ownership recently?

Yes, which is why I’d recommend using DDG primarily and only using !s when you need better results. Using Startpage is probably better than using Google directly.

There is debate over the legitimacy of Startpage, see: https://github.com/privacytoolsIO/privacytools.io/issues/156...

Now I'm wondering if DDG uses those !g search queries to understand where it falls short and why their users decides to use it.

I find it very interesting that the comments here on HN so far are predominated by discussion of "privacy".

The article is about anti-trust regulation.

These are different things.

Regardless of what you might think about the privacy of any particular option today, the point of this change is to make sure more choice is available and visible to users. In the long run, it's worth remembering that such choice might be a prerequisite for more privacy-oriented services to have a chance to grow. This is the case even if you don't regard any of the current options highly.

But they're both about choice, and the usual reason people make DDG their choice is privacy from Google.

Sure, but grep the fine original article for the word "privacy".

It's not present.

HN is discussing HN's tangentially-related feelings more than HN is discussing the article. I'm not surprised, but I'm certainly frustrated: in addition to being navel-gazing, in this situation it's also substantially missing the main reasons this is good: a regulatory agency is actually doing Reasonable Things -- things any privacy advocate should probably be pleased with -- but not just are they doing Reasonable Things, they're them in a relatively subtle, non-prescriptive way that actually keeps the options open for further future improvement. This is great; DDG is an incidental detail.

I personally hope DDG is going to namechange soon. I don't hate their name, but if you present the user with a choice of

- Google

- DuckDuckGo

- Yandex

Why would he click the "silly" option besides humor. It's a bad brand name IMO

A few years ago (well probably over 20 by now) an older family member asked for my email address since I was going travelling and they wanted to keep in touch with this new-fangled technology they were about to "sign a contract" for. So I told them - over the landline phone - that it was {my name}@hotmail.com.

I never heard a thing from them for the entire time I was away.

So when I finally got back I paid a visit to show them photographs from my trip (I had a 1.3MB digital camera about the size of a small chicken back then). ANd I noticed a piece of paper stuck to the fridge and on it was written {my name}@hotmale.com

I can only imagine what sort of replies poor old Aunt Shirley received and wonder if she ever carried on any of the conversations!

As a very happy DDG user for many years now, I agree. I'm embarrassed to search things when anyone can see my screen, because I usually get weird comments about it.

I disagree, I think it needs a memorable, friendly-sounding name. I’ve had more luck selling it to people precisely because of the name. People like ducks in bow ties. Heck I like ducks in bow ties.

Two search engines from the EU we’re mentioned upthread. I have already forgotten their names — that’s a problem DDG doesn’t have. Remembering it’s about ducks is easily good enough to find it.

Google is a fairly silly name for a search engine as well but they seem to be doing ok for themselves

And Yahoo! was for quite a while the king of the internet.

It's also not very well targeted at global reach. I mean, I assume it's a reference to something in some language / locale? Or, is the humor just super absurdist, i.e. they might've called it ShoeShoeEat and it would've been equally "humorous"?

Assuming the first, it simply means they never imagined being used by people other than (I guess) Americans. Which is unfortunate, but forgiveable.

It's also a terrible finger twister on the keyboard. I wish they swapped duck.co and duckduckgo.com so I could search on duck.co and find dev info on the fingertwister.


(I assume, anyway.) I happen to remember it from a drama lesson at school in the UK, but I'm pretty sure it's predominantly American, yes.

> (I assume, anyway.)

You assume correctly. The Wikipedia page for DuckDuckGo mentions it at the top, with two references.

You can use duck.com

Or, for true professionals, https://ddg.gg/.

That's almost the most "grey suit" URL possible.

I think the bigger issue is the use in common language as a verb. People say "Why don't you just google it?" and you go to Google to do so.

I sometimes say "You should duckduck the info" (or use a single duck) if I have time to explain what I mean.

Though, writing this, I guess people will become familiar with that term too if DDG gains enough traction.

it would be good to move away from using the search provider name as the verb and just use something more generic like "search it" or "look it up". there are so many acceptable search engines around these days anyway and it the most popular is going to change every decade it will be just annoying to have to learn a different verb each time

It's also duck.com :)

Woah I didn't know they got that back from Google! Google was the owner of duck.com for years

Yes, whenever I bring it up to friends the response is ridicule.

I never meet anyone who cared about the name, either they want to know how the results compare to Google, or that they love the little duck in the logo. It's not even technical people who ask about the quality of results.

The name simply never comes up as an issue.

How is Apple getting away with iOS? Unlike Android, you cannot cannot change the default browser, maps, messaging apps or anything.

Apple added DuckDuckGo as an option for the default search engine in iOS 8, over 5 years ago.

The issue here is not if the user can choose a search engine, but if the user is forced to choose a search engine before they're allowed to use the phone.

Apple does not require that.

Apple does not have their own in-house search provider

What do you mean?

I am on iPhone 11 and my browser is Firefox, my email app is AirMail, my main messaging app is WhatsApp and I get all my directions from Google Maps (planning on switching to an alternative in the near future).

But Firefox (and Chrome) on iOS are using the Safari rendering engine right? Or did that change?

Also, he said ‘default’; Siri etc still opens Safari or iOS Maps instead of Chrome or Google maps even though I never use Safari or Apple maps. You cannot change that or can you?

No you definitely cannot. I use FF on iOS and it doesn't really bother me but in the rare event when I am opening links outside of FF (email etc.) then Safari pops open.

Same with Maps.

My take is it's a consequence of their vertical integration. Maybe they saw all along, by not even allowing the option to change, there's no way they could be forced to present a rolodex of possible choices - since there's only one choice that works.

You always had the choice with Android, it just had a default. That didn't smell good to regulators in the EU, and they saw an easy option out of that. Telling Apple to open up their walled garden is a lot harder, compared to Android where the garden's already much more open.

IMO, sad that the better approach is getting hit by the regulation stick. Not that I personally think it's needed in either scenario, but it is frustrating to see Apple skate by.

As a past Android user (still trying the new flagships out at stores every year) I find myself to just not be bothered by many "issues" in iOS proclaimed by Android users.

Default browser not Firefox? Meh... it barely even happens that Safari pops open despite me using FF all the time. It's a complete non-issue for me. Others may find it more annoying but the OS is 10x more fluid and better to use. The only Android I have seen come close is Huawei's which I prefer over stock/vanilla (but would never buy due to China). Samsung/LG etc. are a laggy mess out of factory although Samsung has improved with OneUI 2.

> sad that the better approach is getting hit by the regulation stick.

It’s not sad, it just doesn’t make sense. This isn’t logical - Apple should be getting hit worse for being more restrictive

Most devices are that restrictive. It's not like you buy an oven and you get to install Linux on it.

European laws are far more flexible and open to interpretation. At these high levels, the enforcement of the laws is mostly chosen by the will of the people.

Ask 100 Europeans if they think Google is doing something unfair and should be fined, and more will say yes than the same of Apple. Then the regulators just need to find some basis for said fine the people are asking for.

Apple has much less marketshare.

Google makes money off of google search and it's not much of a stretch that they're abusing their market power to strong-arm users of one service of theirs (Android) into using another (search). Meanwhile Apple does not profit from their stock apps -- not directly, at least.

Apple makes billions annually by charging for being the iOS search engine.

I use ddg as my default on laptop(Firefox) and mobile(safari), on SE Asia region. The basic search results are quite reasonable. The challenge comes when I need specific information, or second level info. It gets quite hard and I end up hitting a !g on private mode. Partly, stackoverflow helps. I would say 80-85% it is ddg. Having said that, I also feel ddg has come a long way than how it was 3-4years back and I’ll continue to use it.

Same thing happened to Microsoft with browser selection. This does not really change anything. Google search results are just better.

It does change something: You can now choose Google, instead of having it foisted upon you as a default.

I'm actually interested in this, do you have any data to back that claim up or is it just your personal impression? It's not that I don't share it, but I am curious if indeed it did "not really change anything".

By the way, it's not like a marriage where you bind yourself to one party exclusively. I use DDG as default but fall back (for any queries that do not yield good results and are non-sensitive) to Google when necessary. Still an improvement.

I don't see a difference between DDG and Google for content that is new to me (because I can't possibly know better), but if I'm trying to retrieve one page in particular (i.e. use Google as a smart bookmark), in my experience Google works much better than DDG.

Great point, IE is just better /s

Your pointless sarcasm is missing the core of the post: IE was dethroned when Firefox and Chrome came along (a hugely superior browsers), not when EU forced MS to provide a choice.

Apple has learned from this it seems - you're banned from running any other browser engine on their platforms so this can't happen again on iOS.

I don't agree that googles search results are better. How ever you need to perform one change on bing.com. You need to click the burger menu in the top right corner and set your country/region to United States - English.

If you do that, I think you will find that your rarely, if ever, need to go to google.

Duckduckgo has seen some pretty strong growth [0]. Given that this is merely an option (most people won't change from the default, or will pick Google out of familiarity), I'd be interested to see how much of an effect this will have on their numbers.

I think a secondary issue Duckduckgo and other competitors have to contend with is the idea that nothing other than Google is worth the time of day. I know every thread on HN has people queuing up to say how DDG results aren't as good as Google results (or to say how they switched a while ago and DDG is good enough for their needs), but from a user perspective we can see a much more level playing field in Google vs DDG et al (2020) as opposed to Google vs Altavista et al (1998).

[0] https://duckduckgo.com/traffic

Duck duck go doesn't roll off the tongue as well as Google but it is my default search engine. The genuis thing they implemented was !g at the end of a search term. Now I can get two sources of search info for problems. Most things ddg is fine, but technical problems, you can't have enough options.

It seems like a low value proposition if their most enticing feature is the ability to view Google results. Moreover, if Google added a "!d" command to show DuckDuckGo results, I can't imagine anyone would use it.

A negligible number of people are willing to sacrifice tangible functionality for intangible feelings of privacy that almost certainly will never impact them in any meaningful way. DuckDuckGo needs to make large improvements to their search results if they want to capture anyone outside of this niche market.

Bangs offer a lot more than just !g.

It's actually easier to use some Google services via DDG than via Google itself. For example, the easiest way to access Google Scholar is to use DDG and add !scholar to your search. Likewise for Google Translate and !translate. Like:


Then there are all the non-Google bangs. !a to search Amazon. !hn to search Hacker News. And so on.

DDG bangs [1] and Google Dorks (I just use the nickname bangs en dorks for either) are both very powerful. For me, Google complements DDG; not the other way around. I do agree with the desire for a European-hosted search engine though.

[1] https://duckduckgo.com/bang

> Duck duck go doesn't roll off the tongue as well as Google but it is my default search engine

I mostly use Duck Duck Go now (with liberal use of !g as needed), but the main issue I've had with making it part of my spoken vocabulary using it as a verb. It's much easier to say I "googled" something than "Duck Duck Go'd it" (duck duck went?) or "searched for it on Duck Duck Go". It's been a pet theory of mine for a while that any attempt at getting people to change the words they use is doomed to fail if the replacement contains more syllables (e.g. "letter carrier" for "mailman"), and now I'm wondering if that's something companies should take into account when naming themselves too.

Is it really necessary to use verbified brand names? Why not just use the word 'search'?

> "search for someplace for us to eat tonight"

> "I was searching online for a used car"

> "dude search for 'cat does a backflip', it's epic"


“Search” or “look up.” Don’t beholden yourself to any brand name.

Thank goodness I'm not the only one who thinks this way. I "search" too.... I don't get why people like to get behind some brand.

Just say "I googled it on duck duck go". I do find it interesting how it can feel more awkward to say "I searched it" instead of "I googled it"

A few months ago I made a conscious point to start saying “web search” instead of “Google”. Same number of syllables, and it has grown more familiar and natural over time. Same with “tissue” instead of “Kleenex”. I tell my coworkers to “just do a web search for $phrase” and it comes out fine. Several of them have switched to DDG, so the term “web search” is more inclusive anyways :)

I like destroying trademarks by verbifying them.

Does that work? I’d imagine it just strengthens their brand until someone takes it to court.

It worked for aspirin and escalator. [0]

0: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_generic_and_genericize...

Thanks for that list - very informative! I never knew about many of these.

Just duck it

I think you have a point. I use DDG. I never say "Duck Duck Go it" But I also avoid saying "Google it" cause I don't want to promote bad behavior.

I'm going to try saying/typing "DDG it". It's an acronym driven world. Perhaps that'll work?


Quack it

I like this better than "duck it", for whatever reason. Maybe it feels more specific, whereas "duck" could kind of mean anything?

I'm still waiting to hear people argue over the correct pronunciation of DDG as the default way to refer to it.

Dee Dee Gee



I'm hoping that people start saying "duck it!" in place of "google it!" (Not going to capitalize google because it's practically genericized and them losing the trademark would make me happy.)

The past tense of DuckDuckGo is DuckDuckWent, as in "I DuckDuckWent my name and discovered my high school yearbook has been digitized."

Except it is rather like you exclaim "Duck Duck Go!" to a duck who then executes your command. A past sense would be that you exclaimed "Duck Duck Go!". Turning it into DDGing makes more sense, as already suggested.

I'd prefer "I DDGed my name"

Am I the only one that using 'quack'/'quacked' as my verbs for using DDG?

DDG is my current default search engine in all my devices. It's been 2 years using it. In so few ocassions i needed to rely on Google, but really, you don't need it that much is if Stack Overflow search all day or do overal tech searches. If you need to review more, then use Google and compare search results. But for daily search use it's way ok.

I've been using DDG for about 2 years almost exclusively, but in the last month, quality appears to have degraded a lot? I actually switched back to Google last week, unfortunately.

There won't have been any major change in the past few months that would have negatively impacted your search results.

If you have any specific examples you can always reach out via the feedback box or to staff directly :)

Being a year or two late to the party is better than not showing up at all!

I can't recommend DDG to friends in Europe until they fix their quick actions and translate them in other languages. It's not acceptable that to look for the weather in Rome I have to write "weather Rome" because "meteo Roma" doesn't bring the quick action up. Also, the local results are very bad, unfortunately.

Thanks for the feedback - I've made sure this is logged internally.

It looks like it may have been an edge case around capitalization where "meteo roma" was working and "meteo Roma" wasn't.

We can only find cases like this when users report them - so if you run into one again, feel free to use the feedback button on the bottom-right hand side of the screen! :)

They need to fix that low-quality duck icon at some point. It's up there with Irfanview's 'roadkill' icon for ugliness when zoomed in, and it is unrecognizable at very small sizes (e.g. as a tab icon).

This gets harder and harder as time goes on since there's brand recognition attached.

It's been over six month since i switched on all my devices over DDG and i still miss dearly the Google results/layout/metadata etc... How long is the withdraw syndrome needs to go for?

Why is https://cliqz.com/ not an option? They do some excellent work toward privacy.

What a shitty website is searchenginejournal, full with spyware: https://webtest.app/?url=https://www.searchenginejournal.com...

I switched to ddg a couple of months back. This wasn't my first switch away from google, I've always reverted back at some stage.

Now I can happily report that it really is 90% as good as google, if not more. It's fast, it's accurate, it's context sensitive. Most importantly I don't feel like I'm being preyed upon. Brilliant.

DDG for personal devices, Google for work. Don't care if they track my stackoverflow results.

DDG is quite good at serving stackoverflow results though

I'm glad this happened, but I would really like to get rid of the bloatware like Chrome, Maps and Gmail.

Why is Mojeek forgotten? At least it's a real search engine, and not just a front-end.

Misleading title, it will be offered among other options but will be at the top of the list

>"DuckDuckGo will soon be offered as an option for default search engine on Android devices across the EU."

"[...] option for default [...]"

The word "default" is used a bit weirdly in Chrome. The "default search engines" are ones intended to provide search to the omni bar; as opposed to other search engines which Chrome just picks up passively when you browse the web (often these are suggested when you start typing).

Isn't ddg yahoo search engine?

I would like to see Mozilla Firefox be forced to do the same. As of now, they don't even notify the user of their default Google search to the users. So millions of their user url typing history are being recorded and sent to Google even if they don't use the search function specifically. This in someway has to violates the GDPR.

>they don't even notify the user of their default Google search to the users.

After your start typing it clearly says "Serach in Google"

"Other options, which differ across the EU, include Info.com, Yandex, Qwant, GMX, PrivacyWall, Givero, and Seznam"

Will the EU be liable if/when these illustrious providers have a data breach?

Why would they? Its still up to the user to pick one. Just like how right to repair laws allow you to perform a shit repair that breaks something.

Is the EU liable when you willingly visited a scam site in your vulnerable browser?

One would think they wouldn't tag a search engine as a default without consent.

I still feel like Google should participate in the bidding and distribute the resulting money (their own and their competitors') to a charity rather than keeping it as profit. They got a fine for a reason, turning it into a profit scheme is a big middle finger to anyone who cares about monopolies.

The question would be how to pick a charity in an unbiased manner, but I guess there are a lot of ways to answer that such as picking the most well-funded charity worldwide, or distributing it over the top ten.

From an economic perspective, this makes no sense. The economic benefits google gets from Android largely derive from the control over the default search engine. You're asking that they should donate the proceeds of this benefit. Why would they work on Android at all if they could not benefit from it economically?

The purpose of the auction and the choice is to allow competition for that default spot, and ensure google isn't using Android to further its market dominance in search. However, the EU has its head on straight enough to understand that being chosen as the default search engine for a device still has serious value. There's nothing anti-competitive about google charging a fair price for this benefit. And fortunately we know, because of the auction process, that the prices are fair (i.e. the other bidders certainly bid a price less than the benefit they expect to derive from being selected).

> Why would they work on Android at all if they could not benefit from it economically?

Someone might think their current monetization model should be discouraged via regulation.

MS used to charge manufacturers for Windows Phone - Google could undoubtedly do the same, Android has too much of a moat now for manufacturers to succeed with anything else.

Or, simply not try and skirt EU anti-trust regulation by a pay-to-play bidding system.

DuckDuckGo tweet thread + link to research on choice screens: https://twitter.com/DuckDuckGo/status/1215307399978016774

How would you decide whom to put on your selection screen? Isn't that the excuse they're giving?

Distilling the android property as separate from search, and selling off the search bar to the highest bidder is the just way to create competition.

Where the eu sticks it to Google is when Google is not allowed to participate in the bidding.

If it is truly separate from search, then Google Search should pay Android. Since that benefits the same company, and since all competitors are paying Google Search as part of bidding for a place in Android, it's not a level playing field.

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