Is DuckDuckGo Safe: What You Need To Know In 2024

DuckDuckGo is a privacy browser and, unlike Chrome and Edge, it does not track you – but is all as it seems? 

DuckDuckGo, the privacy-focused search engine, has been making waves in recent years as more and more folks are waking up to the idea that maybe, just maybe, Big Tech firms like Google and Microsoft might not have our best interests at heart when it comes to our personal data.

But is DuckDuckGo actually safe to use? Can you trust it with your searches and browsing history? Let’s dive in and find out.

The DuckDuckGo Controversy

The DuckDuckGo ControversyPin

First off, let’s address the elephant in the room: the DuckDuckGo controversy. 

Back in 2022, DDG found itself in hot water when it was discovered that they were allowing Microsoft to collect certain data from users of their mobile browser.

Cue the pitchforks and torches.

DDG’s users were understandably miffed. After all, the whole selling point of DuckDuckGo was that they didn’t track you or share your data with anyone.

To their credit, DDG’s CEO Gabriel Weinberg took to Reddit to explain the situation and promise to do better. They’ve since updated their agreement with Microsoft to block their trackers too.

I understand this is all rather confusing because it is a search syndication contract that is preventing us from doing a non-search thing. That’s because our product is a bundle of multiple privacy protections, and this is a distribution requirement imposed on us as part of the search syndication agreement that helps us privately use some Bing results to provide you with better private search results overall.

While a lot of what you see on our results page privately incorporates content from other sources, including our own indexes (e.g., Wikipedia, Local listings, Sports, etc.), we source most of our traditional links and images privately from Bing (though because of other search technology our link and image results still may look different).

Really only two companies (Google and Microsoft) have a high-quality global web link index (because I believe it costs upwards of a billion dollars a year to do), and so literally every other global search engine needs to bootstrap with one or both of them to provide a mainstream search product.

The same is true for maps btw — only the biggest companies can similarly afford to put satellites up and send ground cars to take streetview pictures of every neighborhood.

Privacy and Security in 2024

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So, where does that leave us in 2024? Is DuckDuckGo safe to use now?

The short answer is: yes, DuckDuckGo is generally safe to use. They don’t track your searches or collect your personal data. When you use DuckDuckGo, your search queries are completely anonymous.

DDG also offers a bunch of other privacy features, like tracker blocking, encrypted connections, and a “burn after reading” setting for extra sensitive searches.

Compared to Google, which is basically just a giant ad network at this point, DuckDuckGo is a breath of fresh air. You can search without being bombarded by ads and having your every move tracked and analyzed.

Unlike its competitors, DuckDuckGo doesn’t monitor users’ searches or browsing history and prevents other companies from doing so.

Instead, it displays private advertisements on its search engine based on search results, not personal data, to generate revenue.

Search Engine Journal

But (and there’s always a but), DuckDuckGo isn’t perfect. They still rely on Microsoft’s Bing for a lot of their search results, and as we’ve seen, Microsoft isn’t exactly a bastion of privacy.

If you want to completely rid yourself of all forms of tracking, including Bing, you’ll want to check the Brave web browser – it can run Google or Bing but it also has its own, custom search engine. 

There have also been some questions raised about DDG’s commitment to free speech and anti-censorship, with some folks claiming that they’re filtering out certain results.

The Bottom Line

Is DuckDuckGo Safe: What You Need To Know In 2024Pin

So, is DuckDuckGo safe? For most people, yes. It’s a far better option than Google or Bing if you value your privacy.

But if you’re really serious about staying anonymous online, you might want to look into even more hardened options like Tor or Brave’s search engine.

At the end of the day, no search engine is perfect – they all have their foibles. But DuckDuckGo is definitely one of the better choices out there for those of us who’d rather not have our every query and click tracked and sold to the highest bidder.

So go ahead, give DDG a quack—er, a crack. Your privacy (and your sanity) will thank you.

Richard Goodwin

Richard Goodwin is a leading UK technology journalist with a focus on consumer tech trends and data security. Renowned for his insightful analysis, Richard has contributed to Sky News, BBC Radio 4, BBC Radio 2, and CNBC, making complex tech issues accessible to a broad audience.

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