DuckDuckGo is a search engine that prioritizes user privacy and does not manipulate search results according to a user’s data. Other search engines like Google and Bing collect data about a user’s behavior and search history to tailor the ads it displays for a more targeted result. DuckDuckGo, on the other hand, does not collect personal data or log user information and instead displays advertisements (using Microsoft’s ad network) based on the keyword being searched.
DuckDuckGo is largely based on APIs and uses information from multiple partner sources (Yahoo, Apple, Yandex, Wikipedia, etc.) in addition to its own web crawler, DuckDuckBot, to populate its search results. The search engine uses a refined approach to remove content that is deemed low-quality because of keyword stuffing or heavy use of advertisements. It also has a feature called Instant Answers that are meant to answer the search query as quickly as possible and are thus displayed at the top of each search engine results page (SERP). DuckDuckGo also manages DuckDuckHack, a sister site that houses and organizes open source contributions, documentation, and projects, including Instant Answers.
DuckDuckGo was founded in 2008 by tech entrepreneur Gabriel Weinberg. It was built primarily using APIs to power the blended, multi-source search results mentioned above. Despite the widespread use of third party sources that has grown since its inception, DuckDuckGo has strictly maintained that it does not collect personal data, nor does it share any user information with its partners. In 2011 DuckDuckGo was advertised on a billboard with the claim that “Google tracks you. We don’t.” Later that year, DuckDuckGo hired its first official full-time employee, Caine Tighe, who currently serves as the company’s Chief Technology Officer.
DuckDuckGo has experienced steady growth since its launch. It reached 3 million daily searches in 2013, 10 million searches in 2015, and 20 million searches in 2017. In January 2021, DuckDuckGo set a company record of 102 million searches in one day. Prominent tech influencers like Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey and Time and Fast Company editor Harry McCracken have lauded DuckDuckGo for its simple user interface and personal privacy values. It is currently offered as a default search engine in a number of web browser applications, including Apple Safari, Google Chrome, and Mozilla.
Google is a clear leader in the search engine market, but DuckDuckGo’s rapid growth has given it a spot in the top 5 search engines worldwide. Although they are competitors, DuckDuckGo is available as a browser extension that can be added to Google Chrome to prevent Google from tracking a user’s activity. DuckDuckGo can also be designated as the default search engine in the Google Chrome browser.
One of the biggest distinctions between DuckDuckGo and Google is resources. Google has been around ten years longer than DuckDuckGo and is unmatched in the depth and breadth of its search index. It also has a more sophisticated search algorithm and is one of the wealthiest companies in the world. The manner by which they have accumulated that wealth, however, is the source of DuckDuckGo’s value proposition.
Google collects and stores the data of its users, including search history and browsing behavior, and sells it to advertisers for profit. Google publicly details its data collection practices, but it has nevertheless come under intense scrutiny for the type, volume, and intended use of the data it collects. This is where DuckDuckGo presents itself as a formidable competitor. DuckDuckGo has adamantly upheld its commitment to preserving the privacy of its users. Instead of collecting personal data and selling it to advertisers, DuckDuckGo has proven that it can generate advertising revenue based on keywords.