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#DuckDuckGone and other reasons we need our own parallel societies

So it seems that these days — at least in the minds of people who live in tech rather than in human reality — the proper way to announce your absolute lack of bias is to tweet, as DuckDuckGo’s CEO did:

Now I don’t care who you think is right or wrong in the crisis du jour (both sides are nests of vipers, with Russia merely being the larger and more venomous, and the U.S. Deep State getting its fangs in, too).

The truth — can we use that word any more? — is that both sides and their supporting political entities have been blasting out “news” debris at a rate not seen since the eruption of Mt. St. Helens.

Downrank purely propagandistic sites (if you can accurately identify such) from both or neither, and preferably let your users read everyone’s views and form their opinions for themselves, DuckDuckGo. But tell us you’re going to stomp on Russians for lying, lying, lying while you #StandWithUkraine, which is also lying, lying, lying?

And you expect us to trust your search engine to give unbiased results? Nooooooooo.

Living as he does in TechLaLa Land, CEO Gabriel Weinberg must have been shocked when dedicated DuckDuckGo users, not to mention a large number of tech magazine writers, free speech proponents, and libertarian and conservative bloggers immediately erupted … at a rate not seen since … etc.

No doubt you heard the explosion.

Weinberg proceeded to enlarge the blast zone with a series of astonishingly condescending messages that basically amounted to, “You ignorant doofuses; you simply don’t understand how search engines work.”

Here’s a portion of the message sent to me (apparently from Weinberg’s personal address, hahaha) when I used the addy (H/T BSC) to ask about political bias in search results:

Hi Claire, thanks for reaching out. A few clarifications on our rankings for sites that put out news content, based on some persistent misunderstandings I am seeing about my previous statement and some misconceptions about search engines in general.

We don’t censor sites unless legally mandated to do so (like in the EU for RT/Sputnik). Any claim to the contrary is false.

We do not rank sites based on any political agenda or bias. Again, any claim to the contrary is false.

We do not, ourselves, assess the reporting standards of any sites that put out news content. Again, any claim to the contrary is false.

There is no such thing as an “unfiltered” search engine. For every search, a search engine must select the highest quality pieces of content from sites to display for that search, filtering from millions of sites into an order of just a handful.

There is no such thing as a search engine untouched by human hands. There are many signals, hundreds, search engines use to distinguish higher-quality content from lower-quality content. These signals are put together into search algorithms programmed by people.

1. Yep. You see, we simply “misunderstood” when he wrote that DuckDuckGo would downgrade Russian sites but not equally propagandistic Ukrainian “news.”

Whotta bunch of illiterates we are!

2.Weinberg: “We do not rank sites based on any political agenda or bias. Again, any claim to the contrary is false.” Therefore the claim Weinberg himself made in his initial tweet is by his own definition false.

Gosh, just like that old riddle!

3.We’re too stupid to realize that all search engines use algorithms to rank sites.

(He explains in Kamala Harris-like kindergarten language.)

And since ALL search engines filter results by various criteria (true), ipso facto ANY filtering — FOR Ukraine and AGAINST Russia or any other damn political criteria we decide on on any given day — can’t be a bad thing! It’s just us trusted folk at DuckDuckGo doing what we’ve always done — and it’s all for your own good!

Except in August 2018 DuckDuckGo’s official Twitter account claimed:

“We agree that search engine results should be unbiased and we don’t filter ours.”

And now the guy who supposedly runs the company tells us:

“There is no such thing as an “unfiltered” search engine.” (And you’re an ignoramus we must sternly correct if you believe there is.)

I’m getting sooooooo confused. Are you?

4.Weinberg posted similar, but shorter, messages on Twitter. And when people pointed out that DuckDuckGo used to believe in free speech, free inquiry, and unbiased search results as well as user privacy, he simply denied it, stating that privacy was their only claim.


“How far the little have fallen,” sighed Mundabor’s Blog, adding:

It is difficult to explain stupidity, but please allow me to try.

It seems to me that a fairly common mechanism is in place. Initially, a small company exists, and thrives, because it challenges the status quo and the flawed big actors. As the company grows, though, it wants to become exactly like the big actors it was criticising. They likely start to have a marketing department, and an equality department, and some other useless department. They start to parrot all others. Probably they start to be under pressure within their own company to betray the same principles to which they owe their existence.

Being people of the Soy Generation, they have no spine to counter the mob and the tide of tyranny for which they advocate. I am sure every thinking head at DuckDuckGo knows the damage their embracing censorship will do to them (yes, boys and girls: burying unwanted news below a ton of desired news is straight censorship). Still, they have no spine to resist the pressure.

So now DuckDuckGo has trashed its own brand.

Now DuckDuckGo is exactly like Google. Except that Google gives more relevant search results (as long as you stay away from certain topics). Much though I promoted and loved DuckDuckGo, its search results occasionally look like something a drunken monkey would come up with.

So it’s #DuckDuckGone.

I predict that at least 1/3 of its user base will disappear, along with an equivalent amount of its ad revenue. I predict that my prediction will turn out to have been on the conservative side.


I’d like to hear what you’re doing (or not doing) in the wake of DuckDuckGo’s betrayal, condescension, and gaslighting of its user base.

Personally, I spent the weekend putting three lesser-known (for now) search engines through their paces: (which also seems to function with .com and .io extensions)

So far, I wouldn’t even think about making any recommendations.

My momentary favorite is (which is the native search engine of the Brave browser, but can be used on any browser).

Presearch (H/T MtK) is a new concept, global, distributed, community-driven, etc. That sounds like it might mean censor-proof, but even a “community” can turn bad. Worth looking into, though. Interesting.

Several people recommended Qwant, saying they consistently got good results with it. It also claims to be a privacy protector. I tried it and … meh. But its quality doesn’t matter now. It’s based in Europe and therefore it’s following orders to ban — not merely downrank — news from major Russian sources like RT and Sputnik. You can count on much more censorship of many more subjects in the future.

Now, I haven’t checked this one out personally, but some rebels have recommended Yandex. And one libertarian, Michael Suede even ran tests on seven search engines and Yandex came out on top. (H/T ST)

Yandex — the Russian search engine — being “least censored”? Not a freakin’ chance. Nevertheless, it may be a place to pick up alternative views that the likes of Google, DuckDuckGo, and Qwant will never let you see.

Um, but if you go there have some heavy duty anonymizers on your computer. Don’t want to get yourself on another list now, do you?

During the weekend I also removed all instances of DuckDuckGo from my electronics. I took their browser off my phone. I deleted DDG as a search option on all my browsers. I currently have as my default on Firefox and Dissenter (which is a more privacy-respecting fork of Brave, in any case).

Dissenter explicitly bills itself as a free speech browser, and since it comes from the minds of Andrew Torba and the true free speech believers at Gab, you can probably count on that being true. (Another prediction: Gab will soon announce its own search engine.)

Anyhow, if you choose to stick with DuckDuckGo, I’d love to hear your reasons (even if your reasons are that you don’t think any other search engine is more honest).

If you haven’t already departed the New Goog, here’s how to completely get rid of it on your devices.

As Adaptive Curmudgeon so rightly concludes:

Lying serves only one purpose, to manipulate me. What self respecting adult would voluntarily engage with a manipulator?

If a company goes woke it’s dead to me; instantly if possible. Every minute you engage with liars is a minute they’re either messing with your perception or mistreating you. I’m not going to be the victim of their abusive relationship.

Dump ’em and forget about it. Easy peasy. Do it without hesitation. …

This is simple basic self care. You’re an adult. You’ve got a mind and soul. You can and should make your own decisions. The minute anyone in your realm chooses to put politics over truth, is the minute they’ve decided to lie to you. From that point forward they literally mean you harm. Act accordingly.


  1. Comrade X
    Comrade X March 14, 2022 3:33 pm

    Duckduckgone for me.

    For me I use multiple search engines, I start with one and if I can’t find out what I’m looking for I go to another, Plan A is brave right now, if I can’t find it there I’ll go B. C…., duckduckgone went from being in the big show to playing on a farm team.

  2. Granny
    Granny March 14, 2022 3:40 pm

    My two cents as an ex techy: DDG has long been “compromised”, so I stopped using it over a decade ago. I use Brave and will continue to do so until I no longer do. There have been so many privacy invasions and “Lists” since the Patriot Act, I lost count. I agree with Curmudgeon “The minute anyone (my edit: including the entire federal government) in your realm chooses to put politics over truth, is the minute they’ve decided to lie to you. From that point forward they literally mean you harm. Act accordingly.”

  3. Fred M
    Fred M March 14, 2022 4:39 pm

    You may want to try

  4. Claire
    Claire March 14, 2022 5:37 pm

    I used to recommend StartPage along with DuckDuckGo, Fred. Not only was it a good privacy search engine, but I knew and respected its co-owners.

    Unfortunately, Startpage (or IXQuick, as it was called in Europe) is nothing but Google search results, anonymized. If you’re looking for real, non-biased, results, StartPage won’t do the job. It’s a shame. I used it for years. But Google searches are too polluted with Google politics.

  5. Ken Hagler
    Ken Hagler March 14, 2022 5:53 pm

    I’ve switched to Brave’s search engine for the moment. I also took the time to send an email to DuckDuckGo explaining that I’d used them for years, and they could thank their CEO for me switching.

  6. MP
    MP March 14, 2022 6:48 pm

    I have long been looking–unsuccessfully–for a really good alternative to Google (via Startpage). I use Qwant on some computers as my default but go to Startpage if I am searching for technical stuff since it currently tends to not be overly politicized.

    Brave is a likely alternative that I will be exploring. My big concern about is precisely that it claims to be community-driven. Anyone with open eyes can see how well “the wisdom of the crowd” (read “the mentality of the mob”) has worked for wikipedia.

  7. Mark Payton
    Mark Payton March 14, 2022 6:57 pm

    What I would find really useful is a search engine that polled the others (or, better, a user-selected subset of them) and let you instantly switch between results sets so that you could judge for yourself the quality of any given site for any given search.

  8. larryarnold
    larryarnold March 15, 2022 1:17 am

    Don’t want to get yourself on another list now, do you?

    There’s only one list. Everyone is on it.

  9. James
    James March 15, 2022 3:31 am

    I’ve been using Presearch since DDG came out of the closet. As far as I can tell (not very far), it’s okay. I doubt I’m the world’s most-demanding user of search engines, anyway, and I’m not especially concerned about filtering/censoring, as I think my nose for bullshit is pretty reliable. Virtue-signalling filterers/censors do piss me off, though, so I moved on from DDG. The lesson, for me, is that Presearch will, at some point, do the same thing, so I expect to be moving on again. Just don’t know when. Probably sooner than we think.

  10. Jolly
    Jolly March 15, 2022 6:46 am

    In Apple’s Safari browser, there are five choices for searching – Google, Yahoo, Bing, Duckduckgo, and Ecosia ( whatever the hell that is ). The browser will use whatever you choose for searches in the URL bar…

    Shortcut – if an organization’s software is in the App Store or Google Store – they’re part of the problem. Apple doesn’t even give the OPTION of typing-in a different search engine. I get those five and that’s it. They’re not “approved.”

    As a software engineer, I know it’s trivial to add any search engine or website to the list, or allow the user to add it. Apple is constraining choices intentionally.

    Extend that to other software – again, is it in the App Store? It’s part of the problem – Trump’s “Truth” is in the App store – I’ll never use it. “Gab” is NOT in the App store – I’m on it.

    I’m skeptical of “Brave” because it IS available on the App store…

    As for Duckduckgo, a couple days ago, I was listening to NPR’s “Fresh Air” and who was the “underwriter” for it? Duckduckgo. I – wasn’t surprised. DDG is making enough money to throw it at NPR, which is a form of virtue-signaling all by itself. Moreso, because actual money is involved, and to get mentioned means a LOT of money.

    DDG is dead to me.


    PS( Around here in the mountains, PBS stations are on practically every hill, and suck-down many many frequencies. REAL radio stations don’t seem to make it back to the hinterlands, and one has few choices )

  11. Toirdhealbheach Beucail
    Toirdhealbheach Beucail March 15, 2022 6:48 am

    Claire, long ago I learned a valuable lesson in business that applied to life in general: If the answer is not an immediate “yes”, it is “no” (to be fair, the answer could also be an immediate “no”). If the answer is not an immediate “yes”, what it generally means is that the answer really is no but the individual does not want to say no because of any number of reasons, usually that they have not done something or do not want to do something or are embarrassed to admit they did something. The response is also often conflated with a great many “whereas” and “heretofores” – “If these 25 things happen, then yes.”

    I have been trying Qwant and it is okay (to your point, it is in Europe and so probably part of the overall ban; that said, Europe sometimes has a bit more privacy rights than “The Land of The Free”). I have used BraveSearch and it works well; I have Ghostery Dawn on my Phone and it, too, works well.

    I am always mystified, like the author quoted above, why small niche companies build a reputation on a certain user group and then feel at some point they can just lie to and/or abandon them at some point. It is great, in this case, to have an opinion about the ongoing statement and to state it: that is the right of any company. What is not okay is building your reputation on something and then shoving it aside when you feel circumstances merit it. You will offend your base; more importantly, you will not be capturing any new users as likely they are already using your competitors.

    Likely in five years, we will remember DDG the way we remember other InterWeb companies that existed, we used, and then they disappeared.

  12. Erin
    Erin March 15, 2022 11:38 am

    I tried to change my default on Opera to Presearch but it won’t let me. DuckGo is the default now, and I cannot edit it, delete it, click on it, and the added Presearch edit icon won’t let me click on default. I don’t have Duck in my apps. Anyone know what is going on? Windows 10.

  13. Erin
    Erin March 15, 2022 3:22 pm

    I am now assuming that Opera will not allow an added engine as default. You must choose your default from the five or six they predetermined. Also good to know. Going to Brave.

  14. Daylan
    Daylan March 15, 2022 7:11 pm

    For specific product or technical answer I generally use Google and for news, opinion, etc. I generally used DDG. Now I’m also searching for a replacement.

    Edited to add. I’ve been meaning to come up with a script to f*** with Google – when Idle I;d

  15. Daylan
    Daylan March 15, 2022 7:18 pm

    Tried to edit my comment (with 60 seconds left) and it timed me out. 8-(

    I’ve been meaning to come up with a script to f*** with Google – when the computer is idle I’d like it to google random words with random timing.

  16. Noah Body
    Noah Body March 16, 2022 12:21 pm

    I see that my local library is holding a program about Misinformation later in the month: “Learn how to protect yourself and be aware of misinformation online.” I’m tempted to attend, but I fear i won’t be able to hold my tongue. And how long, I wonder, will it be before the library censors “misinformation” on its computers, which I use for internet access. They certainly bought into the Covidian Cult 1000%, closing two years ago, then requiring masks when they reopened, and giving away free COVID tests (with their huge false positive rates, to ramp up the fear about the case count when Omicron came out).

  17. Granny
    Granny March 16, 2022 12:22 pm

    If you run a script against Google, they will block your IP address, possibly, which might cause problems for you in general.

  18. RC
    RC March 16, 2022 3:10 pm

    Last I heard, DuckDuckGo was using Bing for its search results. I was wondering whether Brave was doing its own indexing, and they claim they are. That’s a really large task, and maybe Brave is up to it, but I wonder whether they’re able to deliver the same reach as the big players.

    Brave also says, “We rely on anonymous community contributions to refine results, and community-created alternative ranking models to ensure diversity.” That’s an interesting statement, and it doesn’t really say anything about neutrality of rankings. Whether it’s likely, it’s possible to imagine, at least, the prospect of crowd-sourced bias in the “community”, whatever the community is.

    I also tried in a couple browsers. In my std. config, which is really locked-down, it delivered only one page of results, with not “next” link, so I tried it in a mostly open Firefox, and still got only one page. Since it isn’t unusual for me to dig though multiple pages of results, this is definite show-stopper. If there’s a “next” link, I can’t see it.

    FWIW, the results of my test search in Brave were quite different from what I got in DuckDuckGo. Well, that’s not much indicative of bias in any direction – after all, Smith charts aren’t exactly controversial. I was just curious to see what happened. The only page in common for the 1st page of results was Wikipedia.

    Brave does offer the buttons to try a search in other engines, and one mentioned is mojeek, which might bear looking at.

    I’ve actually gotten pretty tired of the constant head-banging of dumping this or that, switching to something else, lather, rinse, repeat. Maybe it’s time to ignore more stuff, and think more about things that actually improve my life.

  19. Jeff2
    Jeff2 March 17, 2022 4:15 am

    I am having the same problem as RC. I get 20 results and thats it. There are additional search options between the tenth and 11th results, but no way to get more than 20. What filters is brave using to produce this list?

    On other search engines I have had to go through hundreds of results sometimes, to get to the meat of my search. I find the limited results in Brave to be very counter-productive. I have saved links to other search engines in my bookmarks that I will play with to see if I can improve things.

    It used to be pretty easy for me to find things on the internet, even in the dark web. These days everything is behind a bunch of false forks meant to lead you away from truth.

    Might be time to give up on the internet until things go through the evolutionary phase and become more open.


  20. Jeff Allen
    Jeff Allen March 17, 2022 9:24 am

    “#DuckDuckGone and other reasons we need our own parallel societies” – I’m (grimly) down with judging DDG, and I appreciate the geek-out for replacement “services” – but that’s miles away from “parallel societies.”

    Admittedly, that’s a more difficult proposition, and the only suggestion I can make is to play off John Gilmore’s epigram: “The Net interprets censorship as damage and routes around it”.
    I think of this as a metaphor, however.

    PS: Jeff2 & I went to different schools together. Look it up.

  21. John Wilder
    John Wilder March 17, 2022 8:25 pm

    Yup. Just another one. Never be surprised, they’re not done. (my blog topics for the last three plus tomorrow)

  22. Jeff2
    Jeff2 March 20, 2022 4:48 am

    Thanks, Granny!

    Pretty good review.

    Brave still continues to under-perform on test count and really had no good indexed results for images and limited on videos.

    After trying to deal with Brave for the last week, I ran some tests on Swisscows and found it much more to my liking. It appears to be based in Germany, so there is still the EU issues, but it gave me pages and pages of search results similar to DDG and video/image indexing seemed as good as DDG.

    I can still go to RT, Sputnik and Yandex for Russia searches or the other side of the story.

  23. David
    David March 20, 2022 7:54 pm

    For Jolly, find a search engine, save that website as your new “homepage”, you can also set new windows and tabs to open to same location. Safari, Preferences, General, set as you like.

  24. David
    David March 20, 2022 7:55 pm

    Has anyone figured out “dogpile”?

  25. RC
    RC March 21, 2022 4:13 pm

    Dogpile just collects results from multiple other search engines and puts them all together.

  26. Lauren
    Lauren March 23, 2022 9:43 am

    Dissenter has also gone woke. Their new terms of service are asinine, stating they will no longer allow “misinformation” and specifically identifying misinformation as anything that doesn’t bow to the current scientific and social consensus. I went back to Brave when I got that notification. #DissenterGone

  27. Claire
    Claire March 23, 2022 7:58 pm

    Lauren — Dissenter, the browser of Gab? Gab, that’s making its reputation on never compromising on free speech?

    It seemed unlikely — though I realize these days anything can happen. I did a brief search and found nothing. Do you have a link?

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