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Can You Trust Google? Why Take a Chance?

Google is the dominant search engine in the world right now, as everyone on the Internet surely knows. Their offerings go well beyond search engines though. You could live your entire digital life using only google products, and basically suffer no loss of productivity. They have Gmail, Google Docs, Google Reader, Google Goggles on Android (great app), and many more wonderful services/applications that I love to use. And their search engine results are typically very good. So good in fact that Bing copies Google’s search results.

I was not an early adopter of Google. In my early Internet days, I used Infoseek, because that’s the only search engine I was aware of, thanks to my dad telling me about it. Then during middle school I became aware of Yahoo, which most of my friends were using. I liked it, and stuck with Yahoo through my first year in college, even to the point of getting a Yahoo email address. I heard of Google in high school, but I didn’t start using it until later because if it ain’t broke, you don’t have to go fix it.

But Yahoo was sort of bloated. I liked Google’s clean interface. You go to Google.com, and you get an all-business search engine. Gradually over the years I’ve become Google-dependent. I used Gmail for all of my email correspondence until very recently. I’ve used Google Docs at school to work collaboratively with others. I use an Android phone, the great HTC Evo 4G. I love a lot of what Google does.

However, there are things I don’t love about Google. They’re very good at profiling you and targeting ads to you. Based on the contents of your Google searches and the contents of your emails, you receive targeted advertisements. I don’t like anyone knowing my habits and interests that well. I’m not saying someone is sitting around at Google reading through my Gmail, but it is obvious that they are matching key words or something.

Another thing to be aware of about Google: They have political opinions and objectives. This isn’t wrong, almost all corporations are influenced by or are influencers of government policies. I’m not going to get into what Google is all about politically, but they do have positions and take actions based on those positions.

Do you want a better, more secure, more private search engine? Give Duckduckgo a try. I’ve been using it almost exclusively for several months now. It’s great. ¬†Also, their !Bang feature is awesome and extremely useful.

Click this link for a detailed explanation of why Duckduckgo is more private than Google.

Duckduckgo also has an official iPhone and iPad application and an official Android app is in the works. Until the official Android application arrives, there is an unofficial one that is pretty good.

I don’t think Google is evil or conspiratorial. I just don’t feel like being tracked that closely. I’m moving away from Gmail, and I use the superior (for my needs) Duckduckgo for my search engine. You should too.

Are you concerned about what Google knows about you? Well, they only know the information you give them. Thoughts? Questions? Comments? Let me know below.

9 Comments

  1. Nick Altrup wrote:

    I’m more concerned about complacency at Google than what they know about me. I am starting to believe that their success will ultimately be their demise. They are, in my opinion, low-hanging fruit in the search engine market. Search is ready for heavy innovation, and I don’t think Google will be the company to do it. I strongly suspect they will be #2 (lower) within 5 years if they don’t innovate the engine and change the algorithm. I don’t have any hard evidence to back that up. It’s just a gut feeling.

    Here’s my current dilemma though: 75% of Internet users are searching with Google. And since I optimize for my clients, I feel stuck using them. I need to understand the algorithm to the best of my ability to be able to achieve maximum results for the client.

    Having said that, I will definitely start using DuckDuckGo. Perhaps they will be the ones to one day topple Google.

    Good post.

    Sunday, February 20, 2011 at 13:58 | Permalink
  2. Nick Altrup wrote:

    Interestingly, my website fairs SIGNIFICANTLY better in terms of SEO for DuckDuckGo. Before I say what I’m about to say, take it with a grain of salt. I’m obviously biased. But this indicates to me that they are doing a better job of walking the walk than Google is when it comes to the mantra that “content is king.” I get frustrated to no end to see inferior websites that produce no content outrank me on Google. Actually, they frustrate me for a wide variety of reasons. Go, DuckDuckGo, go!!!

    Sunday, February 20, 2011 at 14:11 | Permalink
  3. Debianero wrote:

    You say you’re moving away from GMail but don’t explain to where.

    I’m trying to get rid of Big-G too but is almost impossible to find a site without G-analytics, G-Ads, G-Syndication, G-Apis, G-whatever…

    The same threat is coming from FaceBook these days, so we’re not surfing Internet anymore but G-Ocean and FB-Lake.

    It’s almost impossible to surf without being profiled, not to mention if you’re usin G-DNS.

    Sometimes I surf with non-graphical browsers (Lynx, eLinks, etc) and rejecting cookies, other times with graphical browsers but with at least ABP and Non-Script running.

    Anyway, Big-G and FB (and others) have long tentacles.

    P.S. I’m using DDG since it started.

    Sunday, February 20, 2011 at 14:46 | Permalink
  4. Russell wrote:

    Nick, I think you’re right about Google not being dominant in the near future if they can’t keep their innovative culture. The new little guy revolutionary always shakes up the market, then grows and eventually becomes “the man” or words to that effect. I think the same thing will happen with Facebook. Once you go from revolutionary new outsider to big institution, you lose some of your small nimble edge. Look at Microsoft, which some would argue is in the process of fading into obscurity. I don’t really want to get into that debate here, but there is a somewhat predictable pattern in the technology world of giants being slain by Davids (who then eventually become Goliaths over time).

    Evidently Google has been getting better about spotting “fake” websites with lousy content that are designed only to get clicks on ads and affiliate links, but in my esperience, I still get a lot of lousy returns on Google.

    Make sure you check out donttrack.us if you didn’t check it out already.

    Sunday, February 20, 2011 at 14:56 | Permalink
  5. Russell wrote:

    I’m glad you’re having a positive experience with DDG so far. If you try out the iPhone app, let me know if it’s any good.

    Sunday, February 20, 2011 at 14:57 | Permalink
  6. Russell wrote:

    Debianero, thanks for reading and thanks for commenting. I should have mentioned that I’m phasing out my personal use of Gmail in favor of my email through this site, which still exposes me to some risk since my email is going through Dreamhost’s servers, but I think since they’re smaller than Google I trust them more, even if that trust is unfounded. They use Squirrel Mail for their email.

    Huge web institutions like Gmail and Facebook should definitely be viewed with healthy skepticism. Even if they don’t have any bad intent, they’re big enough that they could do bad things if they wanted to.

    On DDG’s site donttrack.us, they mentioned a Chrome extension called Disconnect which I have been trying out on Chromium since this morning. Disconnect is “a browser extension that stops major third parties and search engines from tracking the webpages you go to and searches you do.” It seems good so far, I’ll post more information about it once I’ve been using it a little longer, but it looks like it’s worth a look if you’re using any Chromium variants, particularly Google Chrome which is basically a browser designed to tell Google more about you.

    Thanks again for reading/commenting.

    Sunday, February 20, 2011 at 15:02 | Permalink
  7. Debianero wrote:

    Yep, I’m researching the do-not-track thing nowadays too.

    Two interesting articles about that topic:

    https://www.pcworld.com/businesscenter/article/219328/why_browser_do_not_track_features_will_not_work.html

    https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2011/02/what-does-track-do-not-track-mean

    P.S. As you can see in that links I try to default to https whenever I can. That’s another no-tracking layer :)

    Sunday, February 20, 2011 at 16:11 | Permalink
  8. Russell wrote:

    Thanks for the articles, I’ll definitely give them a look. I’m always interested in increasing my personal information security.

    Sunday, February 20, 2011 at 17:31 | Permalink
  9. Debianero wrote:

    You’re welcome.

    Another interesting search engine I forgot to mention before is https://ssl.scroogle.org/

    It’s Google results but without cookies, no-search term records and deleting access logs after 48 hours.

    Monday, February 21, 2011 at 11:19 | Permalink

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