Listen : Audio version of this article
In today’s fast-paced digital environment, you need to know how your data is being used when you search for things online. Protecting this data may come down to researching and using a search engine other than Google, which has been coming under fire more and more lately for privacy and data protection issues.
In order to know how to protect yourself online, you need to know the risks associated with Google searches and which search engines alleviate those risks.
What are the Dangers?
The risks associated with Google searches have become more apparent as more of our daily lives go online. If you use Google to calculate your tax information or search sensitive topics, you may be worried that this information is being sold to data collection companies.
Even seemingly harmless searches can make you vulnerable to aggressive ad campaigns from the third-party companies that Google gives your information to.
In order to stay as private as possible when you search online, here are a few search engine alternatives to Google.
Qwant strives to offer a similar service to Google, which includes a look that you might be familiar with and a newsfeed that features trending topics. Unlike Google, however, Qwant assures its users that their information is never collected and distributed to third party companies or saved on the site’s servers.
This means no ad campaigns and no sleazy lead generators getting access to your personal information.
Knowing the benefits of switching to another search engine like DuckDuckGo also means knowing the problems inherent in Google’s way of doing things.
The first is that Google tracks you everywhere you go, and not just on their search engine. Google trackers are implanted in about three-quarters of the most popular sites on the internet. DuckDuckGo not only promises never to track you, but it also has software built-in as an extension to your browser that gets rid of the other trackers you encounter along the way.
Its privacy-focused interface is also intuitive, featuring a system that allows you to search through other sites automatically, saving you time.
SearX is built on open-source software that you can examine yourself. They pride themselves on being the most transparent search engine available and it shows. With its promise to never track you when you use their services as well as the customization options provided by their software, searX is a clean, functional alternative to the flashier search engines.
Your private information may not be all that’s at stake when you use a search engine. You may want to keep the searches themselves private. Hot.com promises confidentiality when you use its service. Though it may be a relatively new search engine, it’s quickly becoming trusted as a Google alternative for specific search needs.
Like many search engines on this list, MetaGer promises its users that their searches will remain anonymous. Yet, unlike those based in the US, the Germany-located MetaGer severs will keep your searches anonymous no matter what.
They use a Tor network to provide you search results from other engines as anonymously as possible.
This one is popular with academics and professionals. SearchTeam is a cooperative search engine that allows people in a group to search together, notate and record their search histories, and upload documents so that everyone can see them.
SearchTeam takes the concept of Google Docs up a notch by incorporating the search engine itself in the collaboration.
For most people, Google is so prevalent that they don’t even consider alternatives. Yet, even those who prefer other search engines may still be a victim of Google’s tracking devices and ad schemes, which are implanted in many unrelated sites across the internet.
In the case of privacy, you can’t be too careful. Putting sensitive or personal information online is nerve-wracking already without the possibility that it will be sold or used against you. That’s why you should consider protecting yourself and your data and switching to one of these alternatives.