Although Google continues to be the largest search engine in the world, users are becoming suspicious of the giant’s privacy abuses. Look at your location history on your Google maps timeline. With your location services on, Google knows everywhere you have been with your device. Using Gmail means the search engine also has access to every email you have sent or received.
Google compiles this data, along with every web search and purchase, to create a user profile. Further feeding this profile is all the devices tied to a Google account, including Google Home. The specific algorithms used are proprietary, so no one seems to know just how much Google knows about you. Cybersecurity experts warn that there is also no responsibility for how the information is protected or used.
Google has a large volume of private information about each easer. It is supposedly only used for targeted advertising. On that, we are just expected to trust their word. The public also has no idea how that information is protected. So, what happens when someone accesses the information Google has about you for nefarious purposes?
In contemplating all the potential misuse, not to mention the creep factor, users are searching for better alternatives. Private search engines are an excellent place to start. The majority of them use the larger search engines’ data and reroute it to you while disguising your IP address.
Private search engines to consider:
- GoodSearch—GoodSearch leads the way in a new era of socially conscious web searching. Started in 2005, GoodSearch donates fifty percent of its profits to schools and charities. They also offer GoodShop and GoodDining for shopping and dining. With these partner programs, a small percentage of the money you spend you goes to charity. Users enjoy knowing they are contributing to a good cause as they go about their regular internet habits.
- DuckDuckGo—DuckDuckGo shows the same search results from a query to each user. Google, and other larger search engines, base results on your previous history. DuckDuckGo can also be set as your default search engine, making it easier to use for everyday browsing. The search engine also has cool features that you will not find on Google. You can search social media bios without ever leaving the website, a stop-watch function, and instant answer features. Instant answers give you instant access to things like a calendar of any month and year, or a loan calculator, instantly.
- com—This search engine provides great resource material in all search returns. Hot.com was built specifically to aggregate information from all corners of the web. It makes sense that users want to protect their privacy and anonymity when searching for this type of content.
- Hotbot—Hotbot lets users set their language, page theme, and search preferences. The search engine also features a safe search feature with three options. When placed on strict, the search engine will only return the most stringently filtered results safe for children. Hotbot provides a privacy blog that is full of information about protecting your online privacy.
- EcoKey—EcoKey is a new green search engine. How can a search engine be green? EcoKey starts by donating forty percent of its revenue to litter clean up around the globe. In addition, it filters results to give you the most environmentally friendly options. So, if you search for laundry detergent, the first detergents you see will be those that are well-known as being environmentally friendly.
Users have varied reasons for searching for alternatives to Google. Privacy concerns top the list. Targeted advertising also becomes tiresome. Because Google basis the search results you see on your prior usage, it can be challenging to find fresh information.
Virtually every adult now has an extensive data profile. There are substantial rumors of things like metadata analysis of every photo we post having a geographical location associated with it. This happens independent of whether you are sharing your location or not. Algorithms decide what answers we get to questions and what videos we see on the internet. In reality, we see what big data decides we need to see. How much does that start to shape and impact how we see and interact with the world around us?
The questions about the use of our harvested data are what is driving people to be more conscious of their online privacy. We don’t know how our data is used by Google now, and can only imagine how it might be used in the future.