I have an uneasy relationship with Google, and have been on a hunt for alternative search engines. Here are my top more ethical search engines that you might want to try too.
Yes, Google is great at finding everything you need to know in a flash. But here’s the thing: Google, in turn, knows everything about you through your search history.
Google will know if you’re looking for a job or if you’ve lost your job. It will know if you think you might be pregnant or if you think you might be in labour. If you’re ill, Google will know. Google will know your interests and hobbies. And Google will perhaps know some things you’d rather not share with even your closest friends. Say, for example, if you discovered your other half has a thing for wearing ladies’ underwear then chances are Google would know about it first!
Being such a global giant, I don’t feel at ease with Google knowing so much about me. Who knows what it does with my data, or what it can do in the future with it. Coupled with Google’s well-documented tax avoidance, it doesn’t paint a pretty or ethical picture. Thankfully there are some alternative search engines more ethical than Google.
Best Alternative Search Engines
Here are my top alternative ethical search engines that contribute to a better world. From planting trees to those with a zero-tracking policy, do take a look.
In my search for alternative search engines, I came across Ecosia. This is a green search engine that donates all of its surplus income to conservation organisations that plant trees where they are needed most.
Transparency is key. As such, Ecoia publishes monthly financial reports. These show exactly how much money they made from your searches, and what percentage of their revenue went towards trees.
Ecosia does not pay out any dividends to its owners. All profits stay within the company and will eventually either be invested or used for tree planting.
What I like is that searches on Ecosia are powered by 100% renewable energy. Ecosia plant trees that fight climate change by removing CO2 from the atmosphere. And they accelerate the energy transition away from fossil fuels by adding solar energy to the electricity grid. This is because they started building their own solar plants in 2018,
And you don’t have to sacrifice low-quality results to do good – Ecosia uses Bing and their own search algorithms. The association with Bing is not brilliant, as Microsoft who owns Bing has also been avoiding paying tax. However, the tree planting element of Ecosia gives it the ethical alternative search engine edge over Google.
Ecosia works just like Google. Simply search for what you want, and as well as your search results you’ll be presented with relevant adverts based on your search terms. If you click on a sponsored link the sponsoring company pays Bing for the click. The difference is that then Bing gives the bigger chunk of that money to Ecosia. Ecosia then donates at least 80% of this income to plant trees. Surfing with a conscience, if you will. So far Ecosia has planted over 120,000,000 trees.
I wondered if there were any other alternative search engines out there not tainted by tax avoidance. A bit more searching uncovered DuckDuckGo. This is a search engine that claims not to track you or collect information about you:
As DuckDuckGo doesn’t store your previous searches and is forced to keep its focus purely on its search function, rather than advertising it seems like a fairly smart and innocuous choice for web searching. And its search function is pretty good too. They don’t have an environmental focus, like Ecosia, but they don’t contribute to tax avoidance, so I’m chalking that up as a win.
My Alternative Search Engine Recommendations
So, as far as alternative search engines go, I found Ecosia great for the environment. However, it’s not so hot if you want to use a website not tainted by tax avoidance. I might adopt a two-pronged approach to search engines – using Ecosia for general web searches (where, to be honest, I’d be much more inclined to click on sponsored search results) and using DuckDuckGo (which doesn’t collect information about you) for looking for specific web pages (where I would be unlikely to click on sponsored search results anyway).
Have you used Ecosia or DuckDuckGo? What did you think? Or are there any other alternative search engines that you recommend? I’m all ears!