Private search engines, despite seeing massive growth, still have just a very minor percentage of the search engine market as a whole. However, these search engines offer a few advantages over the industry leaders like Google, Yahoo! and Bing.
While the most popular search engines collect information about your searches, private search engines generally avoid this type of tracking. To help protect your privacy, private search engines don’t collect information about your searches or link your search history to your user profile.
Your searches can reveal a lot about you, and giving companies access to this information allows them to target you very precisely with ads. The display ads that show up on sites you visit can potentially reveal embarrassing searches you may have done. This is especially important if you are using a public computer or you share a computer with other people.
Another problem with tracking is that the sites that collect your data have to store that data. In the event that the company gets hacked or experiences a data breach, your data could get into the wrong hands.
Example: Let’s say you think you may have contracted an STI. If you use Google to search for “STI symptoms“, you may see display ads for STI treatments. If someone else then uses your computer, they could infer that you may have been looking up information about STIs.
Unbiased Search Results
Google has received loads of criticism about certain political biases in its search results. However, not all of this bias is due to Google’s search algorithms. Since Google collects your search data and uses that to determine which search results show up first, your past browsing actually causes this bias.
Google can determine which websites you’ve visited before, and visit often, and use that information to prioritize those websites in your search results. Private search engines either don’t collect or don’t store data about your past browsing so it cannot influence your results.
Example: Imagine that you visit FoxNews.com regularly to get your news. Then, at some point, you do a search for a politics-related term, (i.e. Donald Trump) you’re more likely to see search results from FoxNews.com than from NYTimes.com. This is especially concerning for political issues because it leads to polarized political views.
If you are doing “research” on political topics, but you’re only shown information that you’re likely to agree with, you may start to believe that your individual perspective is the “correct” one. Even if there is a whole range of contradicting information, it may not appear on the first page of your Google search results.