Google is the go-to site for most people when they need to find something online or learn new information. Unfortunately, while Google is great at Web searches, it doesn’t have a stellar track record when it comes to privacy. It saves your search history, reads your email in Gmail, tracks your location, keeps everything you say to “OK Google,” and a lot more.
Why Google spies on you
The reason Google does this is partly to make its services more useful to you by knowing what you want before you want it. The other part is to serve you targeted ads. In fact, I recently told you how Google is tracking the websites you visit and the videos you watch, to better understand your interests. Google, which also owns the digital ad network DoubleClick, serves you up interest-based ads, specifically for you.
Aside from the blatant ad targeting, Google filters results for you based on past search history while still targeting you with ads. This is called a “filter bubble.” This means that you and a family member could search for the same term but come up with different results. To be fair, Google does let you wipe your search history, but it’s always going to be trying to put two and two together.
If you’re tired of Google and its lax view of privacy, here are three private search sites that don’t track you. Be sure to check all three to find the one that’s best for you.
DuckDuckGo is a solid Google replacement, and it doesn’t track or target your IP address or search history. You don’t have to worry about targeted search results or being trapped in a filter bubble, which actually means you get more results.
DuckDuckGo includes the nifty calculators and other tricks you’ve come to expect on Google, but that’s not all. You can customize its interface, with search shortcuts and an Instant Answers feature that’s just as good as, if not better than, Google’s Knowledge Graph. You can also make DuckDuckGo an extension of your browser and activate more privacy settings to keep your search history as protected as possible.
If you have kids or grandchildren running around your house, chances are they’ve sat with you while you searched online for something kid-friendly, like suggestions for movies to watch or books to help with their homework. If so, you dread that inevitable moment when your innocent search turns into less-than-innocent results. Bam! The very sites you’re protecting them from pop up on your computer screen.
All your efforts to keep youngsters in your life safe from that inappropriate trash go up in smoke. Fortunately, there’s a Google-type site called Yippy that’s got you covered. Yippy automatically detects and blocks adult content. That includes pornography, gambling sites, sex product sites and other websites that are not appropriate for kids.
Ixquick calls itself the world’s most private search site. It doesn’t record your IP address, browser information or search history, so advertisers can’t track you.
This search sits also gives you the privacy of searching via proxy, so sites you visit don’t even know your real IP address. This is similar to a program like Tor, but without the hassle of setting it up. Ixquick’s proxy option gives you the most online privacy. It may slow down your searches, but when you select “proxy,” Ixquick makes you invisible online.
To use it, just do a search from Ixquick for a word like “Komando.” Your search results will look similar to Google’s search results, with a list of websites it has found that match your search. Each result, however, has three options. Just click on a link and it takes you to a page as normal, meaning the website can see you.
Choose “Highlight” just to see the basics of a site and see if you actually want to visit it. Or you can click “Proxy,” and you will remain anonymous to the site you’re visiting. Those sites will see Ixquick’s IP address, not yours. Just note that it will slow down the site a little.
Ixquick also keeps you out of filter bubbles, so you can get the search results you’re looking for. Plus, it has a neat star system that rates the accuracy of your search results by cross-checking with other search engines. For example, four stars means that four other search engines agreed on that search term result.
Even if you minimize your use of Google, it’s not the only company collecting your information and using it in scary ways. Find out how Facebook and hundreds of other sites track and share what you do, and how to put a stop to it.
On the Kim Komando Show, the nation’s largest weekend radio talk show, Kim takes calls and dispenses advice on today’s digital lifestyle, from smartphones and tablets to online privacy and data hacks. For her daily tips, free newsletters and more, visit her website at Komando.com. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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