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An interview with DuckDuckGo CEO on the future of anonymous searching

Gabriel Weinberg tells us why he thinks people are turning away from Google

Following the revelations of the PRISM scandal, use of anonymous search engine DuckDuckGo has rocketed as internet users begin to reevaluate their privacy online. We spoke with DuckDuckGo's CEO Gabriel Weinberg on why he thinks people are turning away from Google:

JV: Why do you think people are turning to DuckDuckGo? What differentiates you from the competition?

GW: DuckDuckGo is a general search engine like the big guys except we do not track you. In other words, when you search on DuckDuckGo you are truly anonymous. Our privacy policy is readable and explains how this works and why you should care:

In addition to privacy, we focus on an overall better search experience with less clutter, less spam, less intrusive advertising and of course better results. We believe that for most searches there is a site out there that already has a great answer for you, e.g. IMDB for movies or Yelp for restaurants. We try to get that information from that best source and put it above the links so you can get instant answers.

DuckDuckGo gets its results from over one hundred sources, including DuckDuckBot (our own crawler), crowd-sourced sites (like Wikipedia, which are stored in our own index), Yahoo! (through BOSS), WolframAlpha, Bing, and Yandex.

People are being drawn to us because of our strong privacy policy. They are staying because they're getting a better search experience as explained above.

JV: Do you think DuckDuckGo will continue to grow in popularity or is the publics’ interest in privacy faddish?

GW: We think that people generally do not want to be tracked and if they have choices to switch to private alternatives where they can get both a great experience and great privacy then they will make the switch.

Since the story about NSA/Prism broke we have seen a 69% growth in direct searches. There are also other sites highlighting alternatives such as http://prism-break.org/ & http://fixtracking.com/ (by DuckDuckGo)

JV: How important are the benefits of search personalization to users?

Search personalization is useful in some cases but there is one big disadvantage that companies doing search personalization do not mention. That is being trapped in a filter bubble (http://dontbubble.us/) and seeing only points of view that one agrees with, and less and less opposing viewpoints.

Additionally, we can do the aspects that people generally want when they talk about personalization without tracking or bubbling you. For example, when you type in weather we show your local weather in instant answer form.

JV: What are your plans to expand the business?

Our next milestone is to hit 1% of the search market share. We are about halfway towards that goal.