Tech Talk #176–Apr 2, 2022
Have you switched to DuckDuckGo to escape the relentless data gathering Google does? But do the search results from DuckDuckGo seem to not reach into the deepest darkest corners of the internet to find what you want? There’s a solution, sort of.
StartPage.com is a Dutch company with privacy policies like DuckDuckGo. That means StartPage doesn’t store your IP address storage or your search data. But, in 2009, StartPage agreed with Google to use Google as their search engine. Okay, technically, the agreement was with Ixquick, but in 2016 Ixquick became StartPage, and here we are.
If you don’t know why some people don’t want to use Google (or Microsoft’s Bing) for searching the internet and go looking for alternatives like DuckDuckGo or StartPage instead, it is about privacy.
Alphabet, Google’s parent company since 2015, gets over 80% of its revenue from ads and ad services. Total revenue in just the 4th quarter of 2021 was $75 billion.
How do they make so much money from your searches? By knowing you. When you fire up Google to search for 1956 Lincoln Continental hubcaps or a video of how to get bees out of a chimney on YouTube (also owned by Google), Google adds that information to other searches you’ve done. A person’s search history can tell a lot about them. Looking at what someone searched for can reveal the obvious, like what they bought, hub caps, and problems they might have, like bees. Your search history could reveal sexual orientation, medical history, and political leanings with some interpretation. Now, to Google, the only thing any of this information is good for is targeting search results, and ads explicitly served to you.
I can’t imagine why, but if there was an advertiser out there interested in the people with 1956 Lincolns and bee problems, which would be a lucrative ad Google could sell to that advertiser.
StartPage gives you access to the power of Google’s search results without sharing your data with them.
StartPage has a slightly different interface, but you can still use image or video searching. Filtering by time, size, or region is there, too.
One unusual feature is the anonymous view, that little mask icon at the start of each search result. Click that, and StartPage will visit the website through an anonymizing proxy. The proxy prevents other pages from tracking you when you leave that page.
Search results won’t be identical to Google’s. Also, social feeds (Twitter, Instagram, and the rest) aren’t represented well. Maybe it’s an indexing problem?
StartPage ranks the results you get with the most relevant results listed with the best match at the top. And yay! No ad-sponsored results at the top.
But if you need mapping integration, you’re out of luck with StartPage.
Also, search results with StartPage can be slower than searching from Google, probably because StartPage must pass what you’re searching for to Google, get the results, and then show those results to you. We’re not talking minutes or even full seconds here.
If you want to keep your search information out of the hands of Google but still need the depth of Google search results, try StartPage.
A son goes up to his dad one morning
He says,” I’m starting a search service!”
His dad, impressed, says, “That’s a great idea! Just look how well companies like Google and Bing are doing!”
The son replies, “Oh no, dad, not that type of search engine. I’ll find things around the house for you. For example, for five dollars, I’ll find your reading glasses. For ten, I’ll find your car keys, and for twenty, I’ll find the TV remote.”
The dad exclaims, “At those prices, I might as well find them myself!”
The son smiles and asks, “Are you sure? I hid them pretty well.”
Do you have a computer or technology question? Greg Cunningham has been providing Tehachapi with on-site PC and network services since 2007. Email Greg at email@example.com.