SEARCHING FOR ALTERNATIVES
If there’s one area where Google remains an immovable, dominant force, it’s search. Yet, there are interesting alternatives to Google, most of which don’t compete on the strength of their results, but the strength of their values. Here are a few ethical alternatives to Google to consider:
Ecosia is the up-and-coming search engine. It’s offered as one of the preset search engines in Vivaldi and is a Bing-powered search engine that’s trying to save the planet. Ecosia pledges to return 80% of its profits from search ad revenue to tree-planting projects around the world.
You can’t fault its transparency: it publishes a monthly financial report (documents.ecosia.org) revealing exactly how much has been earned in spent. In April 2018, for instance, it donated more than $536,000 to treeplanting projects and stuck a further $117,000 into marketing to help spread word about the site and boost future revenues. It even reveals how much staff take home each month: the salaries of its 33 staff (including freelancers) came to only $113,000. Nobody, it seems, is getting rich off this company.
Now approaching its tenth birthday, DuckDuckGo counters one of people’s biggest fears about Google: being constantly traced.
The search engine doesn’t collect personal data, meaning the results you see when you search are exactly the same as the next person sees, because the site has no way of making the results more relevant to you as an individual – nor to profit from such personal profiling.
So how does it stay alive? It serves ads from the Yahoo-Bing search alliance network, but these aren’t based on your search history or recent buying behaviour. You might see ads for digital cameras on DuckDuckGo, but they won’t be for the one you were looking at on Amazon five minutes ago. Or, at least, not through design. Formerly known as Ixquick, StartPage claims that it was the first search engine dedicated to protecting people’s privacy.
If you’re really against the Google vibe, then StartPage also offers its own webmail service (StartMail), which has PGP encryption baked in.