best 4 search engines protect privacy
As we begin to live more and more of our personal and professional lives online, privacy concerns are growing proportionally.  We know that there is a frightening amount of data about everything from our income bracket to our shopping habits collected, stored and sometimes sold to third parties.  Have you ever done a Google search about the game last night, and then your news feed is showing advertisements for team gear for whatever team scores you were looking for?  That kind of data mining and storage of our personal habits online can build up to quite a lot of information about us. 

One positive step toward protecting your privacy online is to change search engines to one that does not save or sell your personal search history.  There are quite a few options out there, and although combined they only make up a small percentage of the pie, this is likely to change as more and more internet users become concerned about how much their privacy is being invaded all for targeted marketing.  If you are looking for a search engine that still provides great results, without targeted ads, consider:

  • DuckDuckGo

    duckduckgo privacy search engineThe exact number of DuckDuckGo users is unknown, and that is because they do not track them. Sounds hard to believe right?  Their best guess, based on the number of searches each month, their total user pool is somewhere around 25 million.  No data of your online searches are collected or stored. 

    This, by default, means no targeted ads based on your internet usage.  Though users want more privacy, they often miss the perks that come with giving away that privacy.  DuckDuckGo doesn’t offer the convenience of larger search engines that do store your data, such as instant maps when you search for a specific place, or the ability to find things near you without typing in an address.  Personalization, however, requires that you give up a significant amount of privacy.  Right now you can’t have both. If privacy is the clear winner in your priorities, then DuckDuckGo is a good option.

  • HotBot

    hotbot privacy search engineHotBot is a privately owned search engine. Blog is also a blog run by  HotBot that features common user concerns over privacy and offers tips and how-to’s on the features of HotBot.  For instance, the blog makes suggestions such as using your favorite search engine to search for your own name monthly. 

    This helps make you aware of any identity theft or other reputation-damaging issues on the web.  Approximately 15% of people have at least one reputation-damaging result on the first page of their search engine result. These might include sexually explicit photos, alcohol or drug use, or use of inappropriate language.  Considering that looking you up via search engine is common among potential employers, those in charge of various programs, or even your next date; you want to be aware of what is out there. 

    HotBot was one of the early search engines and sacrificed stratospheric growth to continue protecting the privacy of its users. HotBot does not use tracking cookies or collect user information at all.

  • Hot.com

    hot com search engineAs the name suggests, https://hot.com is a search engine that specializes in “hot” content. This is a website focusing on slightly more risqué content but gives you the option to not share any personal data with the search engine itself.

  • Startpage

    startpage search engineStartpage uses Google data, but through a blind proxy that protects your anonymity, giving you access to the huge amount of indexed data on Google, but protecting your privacy at the same time. Startpage itself does not record your IP address, use any tracking cookies nor do they record your search queries.  Their privacy policy page states that “We believe privacy is a fundamental human right.”

Final summary

So, since the giant search engines make most of their money through targeted ads, how do private search engines stay in business?  Generally, they operate through three streams of revenue.  Contextual ads, which mean if you search for shoes you, will be bombarded with ads about shoes; through affiliate links and through donations. Some private search engines actually operate as non-profit organizations and rely on donations instead of ads to continue operating.

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