DuckDuckGo manipulates search engine results in Russia. On Wednesday, DuckDuckGo’s CEO Gabriel Weinberg tweeted that the search engine would be down-ranking Russian disinformation websites in their search results.
While Russia continues to invade Ukraine, many U.S. companies are cutting ties with Russia. The Russian government is blocking social media websites like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. As Russian citizens seek information that is not controlled by their own government, many are turning to VPNs to gain access to the websites their government has blocked.
This has created a war on information in Russia. Russian citizens are struggling to get unbiased, accurate information. And, U.S. companies are upset about the amount of propaganda and disinformation the government is spreading to its people.
To help, U.S.-based search engines have stepped in to control the spread of disinformation in Russia. On February 28th, Microsoft’s Bing search engine announced that they would be de-ranking state-sponsored sites in their search results.
On Thursday, DuckDuckGo’s CEO Gabriel Gabriel Weinberg followed suit tweeting that DuckDuckGo would be joining the effort to #StandWithUkraine by down-ranking Russian disinformation sites in their search engine.
In addition to down-ranking sites associated with disinformation, we also often place news modules and information boxes at the top of DuckDuckGo search results (where they are seen and clicked the most) to highlight quality information for rapidly unfolding topics.— Gabriel Weinberg (@yegg) March 10, 2022
This has prompted a major backlash by users of the privacy-focused search engine DuckDuckGo. They’ve been tweeting their frustrations with the company, using the hashtag #DuckDuckGone. Many of DuckDuckGo users have also tweeted that they are switching to the search engine Brave, another privacy-focused search engine, because of DuckDuckGo’s decision to manipulate search engine results.
The company said in a statement to Protocol, that “down-ranking is different from censorship.
And explained their position saying, “The primary utility of a search engine is to provide access to accurate information.”
Why are DuckDuckGo users so unhappy?
While DuckDuckGo is known for being the privacy-search engine, that’s not the only reason why people use DuckDuckGo. Many of the search engine’s users made the switch to DuckDuckGo because they liked the fact that DuckDuckGo delivered unbiased results. DuckDuckGo fans, like myself, love the search engine because they don’t manipulate search engine results like Google does.
Up until now, DuckDuckGo did not filter unpopular search results or down-rank websites that they viewed as providing disinformation. They allowed users to decide for themselves what was fact and what was “misinformation.” Although DuckDuckGo states that this is not censorship, many DuckDuckGo users disagree.
Conservatives and Libertarians made DuckDuckGo their search engine because they don’t like the way Google alters search results to show you what they think you want to see. Also, many believe Google censors political queries and information Google deems to be misinformation.
These same users also criticize Facebook for deciding for them what is fact and what is misinformation. And, now DuckDuckGo, the search engine for anti-censorship fans, is doing the same thing.
When a search engine gets involved with political censorship, even for good reasons, it should be prepared for a backlash.
Is DuckDuckGo becoming yet another Big Tech company?
DuckDuckGo has made a few moves recently that have turned off its users. Some have accused the search engine of “adopting the censorship policies” of Big Tech.
Along with de-ranking websites, DuckDuckGo is following Facebook’s strategy of telling users what’s fact and what’s “disinformation”, by providing information boxes at the top of DuckDuckGo’s Russian search results to highlight what is actual facts and what is disinformation.
This is what has prompted Conservatives who despise Facebook’s fact-checking to leave the search engine. DuckDuckGo’s user base is not a fan of censorship, no matter what form it takes. They believe DuckDuckGo is now in fact censoring, even though they say it’s not the same, by deciding for its users which information is “accurate”.
US citizens are fed up with Big Tech manipulating search engines and social media. They are now worried that DuckDuckGo, a search engine that claims to be different than Google, is doing the exact same things that Google does. In order for a search engine to be unbiased, they can’t intentionally manipulate search results – even for humanitarian reasons.
So, DuckDuckGo fans what do you think?
As many of you know, I am a big fan of DuckDuckGo. However, I have to admit I am not thrilled with DuckDuckGo right now. My blog post Why DuckDuckGo is Better than Google is one of my most popular blog posts This move and the fact that DuckDuckGo has pushed for more government regulation of Big Tech companies, has made me pause and rethink how I feel about DuckDuckGo.
If you are a DuckDuckGo fan, what do you think? I love talking about search engines and would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
I am Patty Malowney, the creator of Badass Web Goddess. I am an Albuquerque SEO and digital marketing consultant. I started my first internet business in 2004 with a $40 garage sale computer and a whole lot of determination. I sold my first website, JustMommies.com to the dating company eHarmony.com in 2008. My website was acquired by another company where I worked as a consultant and editor until July, 2019.
After encouragement from friends and family, I decided to branch out on my own and start my own consulting business. I offer advice and services to local businesses on how they can rank better in Google.
In addition to running Badass Web Goddess, I am an avid blogger. I run several blogs including my internet marketing blog here at Badass Web Goddess. If you love my blog, Follow Me on Facebook or Twitter!