Comparing the most popular search engines in terms of privacy.
Is your preferred search engine up to the task? It’s a decision you may have forgotten about, opting for whatever default option pops up in your browser or on your phone—but, like with other digital decisions, you have options.
Google has dominated search to the point that it’s become a verb in and of itself, but we’re going to see how it compares to two of its largest competitors: Microsoft’s Bing and DuckDuckGo, a privacy-focused search engine.
The outcomes of your search
We don’t know what you’re looking for, and we can’t provide you with a complete evaluation of how well various search engines trawl the web without conducting thousands of queries over several months. We can tell you how well these services performed on a few test searches.
We started with “Abraham Lincoln” and found that all three search engines returned the Wikipedia page first, followed by the History Channel site, and finally Britannica. Even though the 16th President of the United States hasn’t been in the news recently, DuckDuckGo put Abraham Lincoln news atop the search results.
We tested “Super Bowl score” next, a few days after the 2019 Super Bowl, and all three search engines showed the correct answer in a box above the search results. The official NFL site was next on DuckDuckGo, followed by various sports news sites, but Bing featured a sports news site first and the NFL second. The score was presented first, followed by Super Bowl headlines, some pertinent tweets, and finally additional outcomes.
We attempted “Empire of the Sun” for something a bit different (both a 1987 Steven Spielberg movie and a music duo). Google returned the film’s Wikipedia page first, then the band’s official site, Bing returned the movie’s Wikipedia page first, while DuckDuckGo returned the Empire of the Sun film’s IMDB page first, then the band’s official site.
These are minor distinctions, and which is “best” is a matter of personal taste (do you want to see Twitter results or not?). Although all three sites are clearly capable of doing basic searches, Google clearly has the upper hand when it comes to discovering content other than web pages and directly answering queries (no doubt thanks to all that Google Assistant technology behind the scenes).
Features for searching
When it comes to Google Assistant, one of the company’s benefits is the way it integrates with all of the other Google applications and services: Right from the Google homepage (as long as you’re logged in), you can search for destinations on Google Maps, look up photos in Google Photos, and check your Google Calendar. To view bookings saved in your Gmail account, try Googling “my travels.”
Aside from simple searches, Google and DuckDuckGo excel in the following areas: They can throw a coin, roll a die, or start a timer directly on the results screen, unlike Bing, which requires more clicks. In the meanwhile, Google and Bing can provide flight data in a pop-up box outside of search results, whereas DuckDuckGo sends you to flight-tracking websites.
Bing’s search bar is shown on top of an appealing full-screen background image, with links to news items and other relevant content beneath. It’s more aesthetically attractive than Google or DuckDuckGo, despite the fact that Google includes doodles and DuckDuckGo has a few colour schemes to choose from.
As you can see, Google can accomplish almost anything—after all, it has been in the search engine business for a long time. Bing and DuckDuckGo can equal Google on certain features, but not all, making it difficult to switch unless you have a compelling reason… This conveniently leads us to the topic of user privacy.
User confidentiality is respected.
This is the main point on which DuckDuckGo offers itself: It doesn’t keep track of what you’re looking for, and it just shows you ads once in a while that aren’t customised and can be turned off, as we said before. DuckDuckGo will pique your interest if you’re tired of major tech companies collecting data on you.
Furthermore, the websites you visit have no way of knowing the search keywords you used to locate them, which they could otherwise figure out by putting together various indications from your browsing activity and data that your computer publicly broadcasts. By default, DuckDuckGo connects to encrypted versions of websites.
Cookies, the little files that sit locally on your computer and inform websites when you’ve visited previously, aren’t kept by DuckDuckGo either. Your IP address (the web address of your router) and the browser you’re using are also erased by default. You’re successfully looking without revealing your identity.
Both Google and Microsoft, without a doubt, pledge to preserve your privacy and properly utilise the data they have on you; you can see their respective privacy policies here and here. However, they do capture a lot more data on you and what you do, so you have to decide if you trust Google and Microsoft to use it properly.
It’s up to you where you draw the line and accept the privacy trade-off when it comes to Google knowing a lot about you—it’ll know whether you’re looking for the NFL team or the aquatic mammals when you search for “dolphins,” for example—so it’s up to you where you draw the line and accept the privacy trade-off when you search for “dolphins.” In terms of data collecting, Bing and Microsoft are nearly identical, albeit Microsoft lacks the breadth of apps and services that Google provides.
The Google service is also the most likely to save you a second visit to a different website. In most situations, if you wish to discover the lyrics to a song, they will appear above Google’s search results, but Bing and DuckDuckGo will need you to click through.
Maybe you don’t mind having your data gathered and seeing a few ads relevant to what you’ve just searched for in exchange for all the extra bells and whistles Google provides, or maybe you’re much more interested in controlling how much information other companies have about you while you surf the web. Whatever your needs, though, there is a search engine to meet them.