What made you change the search engine you have right now?

Hey guys! I’ve had a twisty road on my path to finding a search engine (it reminds me of distro-hopping) and I was just wondering why did you guys choose the search engine you use right now? I also wanted to branch off this as well as to inquire on what other internet tools you use and why (VPN, browser, etc) I would also love for people to tell me some tools that would really increase my privacy or security

2 Likes

I use DuckDuckGo because I didn’t want to use Google. It just works. Aside from uBlock Origin, Privacy Redirect for Firefox is quite handy, it redirects sites to privacy-respecting frontends (think Nitter, Piped, Invidious, etc).

Another browser related thing I think people should look into after extensions is profiles. I separate school & personal stuff with separate profiles (but I’m getting less consistent, lol). There’s also things like Multi-Account Containers to separate sites inside a profile.

4 Likes

I use DuckDuckGo. It’s a simple, privacy based search engine. The only other engine I’ve used is google, and, well, it’s google lol.

1 Like

DuckDuckGo after I degoogled my life 7 or so years ago. I just can’t bring myself to use google even if the results are often times better.

1 Like

I use Startpage.com is a wonderful easy to use nice ui/ux and has nice anonymous features to keep you from being spyed on. No more logged ips, no more search history. be safe and search! :slight_smile:

3 Likes

I use my friend’s searx instance. It has pretty stable uptimes and run by a trusted party. You can find it here. Originally I used duckduckgo (after degoogling ofc), but found the results to be insufficient.

1 Like

Also DDG’s recent controversies and their visibly apparent reliance on Microsoft’s engine, Bing, makes me uncomfortable with using the service.

1 Like

Recently I find myself switching between Brave Search, DDG, and Searx.

3 Likes

Why did I choose a better search provider?

Well, what constitutes a better provider?

Some things I considered when making my choice:

  • Hosting of their services (14-eyes are to be avoided)
  • Are they building a profile in order to serve ads and other unwanted activity?
  • Tracker activity / blocking
  • Site ratings (not important but helpful when choosing what result to open)
  • Privacy policy
  • Respectful of the fact I’m using a VPN
  • Does it force CAPTCHA?
  • Transparency regarding all of the above

So, in short, I can throw Google Search out as an option because they are definitely using my searches and clicks to build a profile (which is a pretty extensive one) regardless of my clicking habits. Just using Google, they are logging pretty much everything I do and in a device like a smartphone, they are definitely employing tracking such as eye movement to see what I’m looking at. Again, this is done regardless of my click habits and is used to build a profile with the sole purpose being to use my data to gain revenue through third parties.

DuckDuckGo

DDG eliminates third party tracking almost completely and anonymizes my search habits. Couple that with a privacy respecting VPN and you’re pretty anonymous searching for anything. Just be aware, this protection doesn’t last outside of the search engine and your clicks to sketchy sites (which DDG will block in their results if they are known spammers). It doesn’t block all threats but will improve your search load times and give you unbiased results to choose from. It also rates each site which is, again, useful in a search engine. It is even partly open-source, which is necessary as well for auditing purposes.

DuckDuckGo is based in the :flag_us: United States. Their privacy policy states they do log your searches for product improvement purposes, but not your IP address or any other personally identifying information. - Privacy Guides

It’s safe to say that’s well within 14-Eyes jurisdiction, however, we can make the assumption it is the most privacy respecting search engine available next to SearX according to Tor Project. Over 6,000,000+ people use this every day because it respects your freedoms and privacy while not compromising on security and speed, and doing all this without requiring JavaScript, and for that reason it is commonly available on Tor Browser, another plus!

One other thing to warn new users of DDG and even the older users: DDG currently has a problem.

When you search using their regular search engine, not using privacy essentials extension, it will load the favicon image and place that in the title of the result on the results page. What does that mean? Well, it means each request requires them (DDG) to request the page for that particular website and display that in your results. It also means Google Analytics is not avoided when you make searches for anything. You can see what I’m talking about when you search “really bad eggs” on DDG, then open up the developer tools and network console. You will see requests to each website in the images tab, meaning to give you these results, DDG had to systematically download the favicon for each page title in the results to be able to show you the results page. It’s caching these in-browser. So, just something to consider. You should still be using uBlock Origin when browsing the web using DDG. The browser coming out shortly for the organization is supposed to be better than the default search engine itself, with or without the Privacy Essentials extension.

SearX

It explicitly says:

  • searx may not offer you as personalized results as Google, but it doesn’t generate a profile about you
  • searx doesn’t care about what you search for, never shares anything with a third party, and it can’t be used to compromise you
  • searx is free software, the code is 100% open and you can help to make it better. See more on github

So, this means we can deduce several things:

We know it promises not to build a profile. It also claims to respect our privacy regarding trackers. We also know it tells third parties to take a hike regarding search optimization and recording clicks. Their privacy policy is, in my opinion, stronger than other options, even DDG, because:

It provides basic privacy by mixing your queries with searches on other platforms without storing search data. Queries are made using a POST request on every browser (except Chrome). Therefore they show up in neither our logs, nor your URL history. - about - searx.org

Instances are listed here. The instances are self-hosted and can have different privacy policies so be sure to check them out before using the instance.

Since SearX[NG] instances may be modified by their owners, they do not necessarily reflect their privacy policy. Some instances run as a Tor hidden service, which may grant some privacy as long as your search queries does not contain PII. - Search Engines - Privacy Guides

Additional thoughts

To enforce using Searx, you can use LibRedirect, an open-source (and heavily maintained, unlike its predecessor) fork of Privacy Redirect, which was mentioned here before. It is a much better option for an extension that forces redirects. You can set it to use Searx in the search options, and you can pick what instances to use. You can also use it for things like YouTube to Invidious, Wikipedia to Wikiless, etc. Much better for privacy and much better for avoiding ads. Like the above options in search providers, their privacy policy states they do not collect any identifying information and the code is open-source for auditing it yourself and ensuring safety of the extension. I highly recommend. It forwards requests to alternative privacy friendly frontends and backends. As a special note, it does support using Tor for that extra spicy bonus to anonymity.

5 Likes

Unless you know something that I don’t, the DuckDuckGo search engine is not open-source. Only the browser apps and extensions are. Even if it was open-source, there’s no way for users to verify that the DDG server is running the public source code without modification. DuckDuckGo · GitHub

It is good that you pointed this out, but I think a bigger problem facing DDG right now is the allowing of Microsoft trackers in their browser app. This has nothing to do with the search engine, but it may affect people’s view of DuckDuckGo as a company. I leave it as an exercise to the reader to read the CEO (yegg)'s responses and formulate their own conclusions: Bing contract prohibits DuckDuckGo from completely blocking Microsoft tracking | Hacker News


I think the implications of this cannot be emphasized enough. When you use searx or SearXNG, you have to trust the server host of whatever instance you use. The server host has the power to do whatever they want, including invasive logging and tracking, regardless of anything they claim in a privacy policy. The legality of this behavior may be questionable, but that doesn’t make it any less possible. It is also unlikely that a small-time searx or SearXNG host will get in trouble with the law (or even suffer a PR disaster) for a misleading or inaccurate privacy policy, whereas a large company like DuckDuckGo has to be far more careful to stay on the right side of the law.

3 Likes

Many years ago when i started working as developer i started using DDG. I’ve been using it until recently when the DDG browser dilemma came out. I’ve been hosting a SearXNG instance for a few weeks/months now and using it on my Work pc for that time to test it out. That DDG event made me switch full time.

1 Like

i use a different search engine on each device/browser/vm (ddg, brave search, startpage, qwant, searx etc); the quality of the results i never really have an issue with , and it means i’m not relying on any single entity though i think that’s what searx does :stuck_out_tongue:

2 Likes

Little notice for the people using SearX instead of SearXNG. SearXNG has some advantages over SearX, read here.

2 Likes

any particular reason, other than it not allowing tor/vpns to use startpage? Because it has googles results (which are the best results)

I swithed from ddg to brave search when my school’s website and online classroom disappeared from ddg and bing

Yesterday I switched to Kagi. Still in beta, but it is a paid search engine. No ads, no data collection, you pay with money and not with your data. Results are amazing too.

I’ve been using brave search since it released, has relatively solid results (best I’ve personally seen that can rival google)

1 Like

Startpage. Google results., Opensource, no tracking, no controversy.

2 Likes
Previous discussion about Kagi on the Techlore Matrix/Discord

Some messages omitted for brevity. Formatting minorly edited for sake of presentation.

There are many people on HN raving about Kagi as a DDG alternative (a few are rightfully skeptical). Anyone have any insight on Kagi from a privacy perspective? The idea of a search engine requiring login doesn’t sound any better than Google (worse, actually, because Google doesn’t require logging in).

Well
You needed an account for brave search aswell

>requires login
Alternative discarded, unbased points given

In reply to “You needed an account for brave search aswell”:
… no you don’t?

needed
You don’t need one now

closed beta doesn’t really count :)

Same for kagi

In reply to “There are many people on HN…”:
Not that many from what I’ve seen, would probably just avoid it

Yeah, once Kagi reaches public beta, there’s supposedly going to be a “free version with limited use”, whatever that means, in addition to the paid “unlimited” version. I assume the free version won’t require an account, but I have no idea how you can really ‘limit’ a search engine.

In reply:
Even in the link you used, there’s only like, 6 people recommending kagi. A decent amount shows reasonable skepticism

In reply:
6 or however many is a fairly strong number of private beta invitees to all be in one place, so I am inclined to believe the results are pretty good. Honestly the Lenses feature seems quite interesting too. The part that’s basically impossible to judge is the privacy aspect.

In reply:
There’s one reddit thread where someone claimed to be the owner (haven’t fully checked, so take this with a grain of salt)
His take seems, questionable https://www.reddit.com/r/privacy/comments/oeseql/rise_of_adfree_paid_search_engines_what_do_you/
Also, if kagi “goes bad”, it’ll be far messier than ddg as it’s tied to your account

In reply:
Honestly I don’t see much of substance in that thread either way (dispelling or strengthening the skepticism)
I guess my question really is this: Is there any known information at this time to dispel some of the healthy skepticism of Kagi’s privacy? Or is use of Kagi truly just a leap of faith at this point in time?

In reply:
Honestly every search engine is a leap of faith, needing an account just means that it’s a far bigger leap of faith
A __paid__ account*

1 Like

For those of you using and especially considering Brave Search, I encourage you to read through the criticisms posted in another thread:

It is also worth reading about the major controversies associated with the Brave web browser and, by extension, Brave the company. Even though these controversies do not affect the search engine, I believe the awareness is important for maintaining an appropriate level of (dis)trust of Brave, just as with DuckDuckGo’s recent controversy.