Or “How I’m trying to reduce my exposure to Google”

I’ve decided to reduce the amount of exposure I have to Google. I simply don’t feel comfortable with how much of my life is tracked and analysed.

I already run a few Firefox addons that should cut back the online breadcrumb trail but it’s still not enough. I found some Firefox addons (NoScript, RequestPolicy) were excellent at what they do but broke many websites due to the site’s reliance on third-party scripts. It’s not the addon’s fault but I don’t have the time to tailor different profiles on a per website basis. I now use Ghostery, Adblock and TACO to reduce the ability for ad networks to track me. But it still wasn’t enough. I’ve used Google forever for my searches and since Gmail launched for email. I championed them when they were the lightweight alternative to Yahoo! and Ask Jeeves. Given their size and reach I don’t want to feed the machine any further unless I explicitly choose to.

I’d recently read about a new search engine called DuckDuckGo and a link on the site highlighted the issue of search engine filtering and bubbling. Although aware of it I’d not really considered how it affected me and I was blissfully unaware in the self delusional world of “I’ll be alright. It doesn’t affect me”. But I’d see the results of bubbling first hand when I had seen me getting different search results depending on the browser or computer I was using. This is why I am choosing to use someone else for my search needs.

I’ve now been using DuckDuckGo for about a month and have been very impressed. It takes a little getting used to and I now much prefer it’s results over those of Google. I’ve had to drop back to Google a couple of times but that is more down to me still thinking the “Google” way when expecting certain things in the results.

The biggest advantage is that the search engine is all about YOU because it is highly configurable and has plenty of tricks up it’s sleeve to help prevent your data leaking when carrying out a search. Have a look at their Privacy Policy. It makes a refreshing read. If that doesn’t convince you have a look at the goodies available to help empower your searches.

My next step is to change from Google Adwords… Wish me luck!


Digital Footprint