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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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:
https://presearch.org/ (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 search.brave.com (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 search.brave.com 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.
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.