A once-popular alternative search engine to Big Tech keystone Google announced it would begin employing the same bad habits utilized by its big brothers in Silicon Valley via restricting access to websites that tell the Russian Federation’s side of the story in the Ukraine conflict.
Gabriel Weinberg, CEO and Founder of DuckDuckGo, made the announcement March 9 on Twitter by stating with righteous indignation that he is “sickened by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the gigantic humanitarian crisis it continues to create.”
While employing the #StandWithUkraine virtue signal, Weinberg added his company has already been “rolling out search updates that down-rank sites associated with Russian disinformation.”
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Outcry against the move from the public appears to have been ineffective. One Twitter anon replied to Weinberg’s announcement, stating, “The whole point of DuckDuckGo is for you to NOT do that.”
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To be met only with Weinberg’s cold retort, “The whole point of DuckDuckGo is privacy. The whole point of the search engine is to show more relevant content over less relevant content, and that is what we continue to do.”
Although DuckDuckGo has quietly served as an alternative to Google for many years because it served up results on sensitive topics, such as Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) vaccination mandates and side effects, that are buried by Big Tech’s shadowban algorithms, the engine’s change in stance was somewhat foreshadowed by hit pieces ran in establishment media.
On Feb. 23, New York Times published a piece coined Fed Up With Google, Conspiracy Theorists Turn To DuckDuckGo, which opens by directly associating the engine with the Joe Rogan podcast, who endured a recent barrage of censorship and cancel culture for hosting guests who challenged the establishment COVID-19 narrative such as messenger RNA inventor Dr. Robert Malone.
“If I wanted to find specific cases about people who died from vaccine-related injuries, I had to go to DuckDuckGo,” NYT quoted Rogan as saying, because he “wasn’t finding them on Google.”
New York Times then characterized DuckDuckGo as a “popular refrain” for people such as “right-wing social media influencers and conspiracy theorists who question Covid-19 vaccines and push discredited coronavirus treatments.”
According to Crunchbase, DuckDuckGo was founded by Weinberg in 2008, has picked up $113 million in disclosed venture capital funding, and describes itself as “the Internet privacy company for everyone who’s had enough of hidden online tracking and wants to take back their privacy now.”
In June of 2021, Bracket Capital became the engine’s lead investor during a Series C funding round for an undisclosed amount.
According to an advertorial article published in the Philadelphia Inquirer the same month, the company stated it was home to more than 125 employees and “has been profitable since 2014,” adding, “Today our revenue [from site advertising sales] exceeds $100 million a year, giving us the financial resources to continue growing rapidly.”
At the time, the Inquirer reported that according to StatCounter, the engine had retained 2.2 percent of the U.S. mobile search market, making it the second largest behind Google, who dominated with an overwhelming 94 percent.
Today, StatCounter states that DuckDuckGo is virtually tied with Yahoo for second place in U.S. mobile search rankings at 2.32 percent, but remains flat when desktop searches are added to the calculation at 2.51 percent, falling significantly behind Microsoft’s Bing and Yahoo at 6.31 and 3.23 percent respectively.
In Canada, DuckDuckGo only has a paltry 1.46 percent market share, compared to Bing at 5.18 percent with desktop searches included.
On a worldwide basis, DuckDuckGo only amounts to a mere 0.68 percent of desktop-included search traffic, lagging behind even Russia’s Yandex, which logs 1.06 percent, and the Chinese Communist Party’s Baidu at 1.17 percent.
The Inquirer also stated that Weinberg had boasted of the company receiving a litany of high profile new investors, such as, “Tim Berners-Lee, the Oxford-trained, Boston-based computer scientist credited with inventing the internet’s World Wide Web, Mitch Kapor, founder of Mozilla (home to web browser Firefox), and Brian Acton, founder of WhatsApp, which was acquired by Facebook for $22 billion in 2014.”
DuckDuckGo itself has a marginal connection to the WEF via a pair of articles published on the organization’s website penned by Engineering Director Cate Hudson, which appear to be published in collaboration with Quartz.
Before the announcement, the engine had seen solid growth since 2015, based on data provided from the website’s traffic page, daily average searches have increased more than 900 percent to slightly less than 100 million per day.
As of time of writing, Duck has fielded more than 7.1 billion searches in 2022 and more than 105 billion during its entire 13-year history.