Wednesday, 5 October 2016

Search The Web - Without Telling Google Everything

A little while ago I covered how to see just how much Google is watching what you do and search for. It should come as no surprise that a big part of that information gathering comes from your internet searches.

Google is hardly alone in this space, Microsoft and Yahoo do it as well. Watching and aggregating your search terms is one way they can all sell targeted advertising.

So is there anything you can do if you'd prefer to not have all your search terms indexed and sold?

When people ask me how they can exercise their privacy more but still use the internet I suggest people give duckduckgo.com a try and see how they like it.

Duckduckgo is a powerful internet search tool that doesn't store your information, doesn't follow you with ads, and doesn't track you.

Another interesting tool duckduckgo offers are called bangs. Not like keeping your hair out of your face bangs, in this case they use the !bang function, a powerful option which can let you search results directly from a specific provider.

To quote the duckduckgo community:

"!Bang commands perform your searches directly on other search engines. Sometimes you know you want to go directly to another site to search, and these commands save you steps in doing so.

For example, suppose you wanted to search Amazon.com for 'bags'. In that case, you could just enter '!a bags' into DuckDuckGo and we'll take you right to the correct search results page on Amazon.com.

If you've adjusted your region in the Settings menu, your !bangs will automatically direct you to the site for that region, if available. For example, if Germany is selected in the Settings, then !amazon will go to amazon.de."

There are literally thousands of !bang options available, you can see a more comprehensive list at https://duckduckgo.com/bang

So far I've been pretty impressed with the capabilities of duckduckgo. They have add-ons for your favorite browser to make it your default search engine, and the results probably rival whatever you are using now.

If you want to help reduce your digital footprint this may be a great tool for you. After all, we give away enough of our privacy without realizing it, no need to volunteer more if you don't have to.

Happy surfing!

-The Home Geek

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