| Ledger columnist
“Big Brother is watching you.”
The admonition comes from George Orwell’s “Nineteen Eighty-Four,” a novel about an ever-present government controlling and suppressing its people.
The book was published in mid 1949 – and 1984 was looking 35 years into the future. This coming June will put 37 years between our time and real-time 1984.
And guess who’s watching?
Your web browser and search engine. From the moment the first search is made, your web browser knows your location. It knows what web sites you’re visiting. It knows if you are using a desktop computer, laptop or mobile phone.
It doesn’t stop there. It knows what browser you’re using (Chrome, Safari, or Edge, for instance), what type of computer you have, and what its processing capabilities are.
Once on a web site, the movement of your mouse and its clicks can be monitored to learn what you looked at and what caught your interest.
Small nuggets of information, to be sure. Yet, as the bits are fed back to the search-engine’s creator and the web pages you visit, those nuggets eventually turn into a gold bar of information.
To use another comparison, your computer set up, monitor, mouse and other bits of information creates a unique fingerprint for you. Using it, your browser and websites can track your movement all over the Internet.
So when you search for razors one day, that’s why you’ll often see ads for razors popping up the next day on web pages you visit.
Or maybe you don’t: Maybe you use DuckDuckGo.com. I’ve used it for years – used it to research anything I needed to verify while I was writing this column, as a matter of fact. So when I crank up my browser tomorrow, I’m not going to see ads for razors popping up in my searches.
DuckDuckGo explains itself on its website: “DuckDuckGo is a general purpose search engine that is intended to be your starting place when searching the Internet. Use it to get way more instant answers, way less spam and real privacy, which we believe adds up to a much better overall search experience.”
DuckDuckGo was founded by Gabriel Weinberg in February 2008 in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania.
It’s easy to do a search using DuckDuckGo, no matter what browser you’re using on your desktop or laptop. Simply go to duckduckgo.com.
Users of Microsoft’s Edge can make DuckDuckGo the default search engine on the Edge browser by going to this link: www.tinyurl.com/DuckDuckGo2Edge. For smartphones, DuckDuckGo apps are available from Google Play and the Apple Store.
In January of this year, DuckDuckgo averaged 95,275,910 searches a day, according to the company. That was also the month the company hit a new daily high of more than 102 million searches. DuckDuckGo’s usage was up 62% in 2020 over 2019.
StatCounter, which tracks search-engine use, said the increase made DuckDuckGo the second-most used search engine on smartphones in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom and Australian markets.
Even with that, the gap between DuckDuckGo in second place and Google in first place, is enormous: Google has 94% of the market while DuckDuckGo has 2.25%. Yahoo is third with just under 2%.
To learn more, visit the company’s website: www.duckduckgo.com.
Lonnie Brown can be reached at LedgerDatabase@aol.com.
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