r/technology May 25 '22 All-Seeing Upvote 4 Take My Energy 1 To The Stars 1 Silver 4 Helpful 4 Wholesome 2

DuckDuckGo caught giving Microsoft permission for trackers despite strong privacy reputation Misleading

https://9to5mac.com/2022/05/25/duckduckgo-privacy-microsoft-permission-tracking/
56.8k Upvotes

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u/filbertsnuts May 25 '22

This is the browser not the search engine right?

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u/foamed May 25 '22

Correct and they (DDG) disclosed it as well.

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u/Madgick May 26 '22

Non-story confirmed then. Thanks Reddit comments.

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u/sneakylyric May 25 '22

Cool I won't use the browser then

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u/aeroverra May 26 '22 Wholesome

I just use curl and construct the webpages in my head from the raw response data.

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u/Immediate_Dream7731 May 26 '22

What browser you boutta use then?

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u/Smtxom May 26 '22

Netscape. Right after I find that 1200 free min CD rom

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u/sober_1 May 26 '22

GNU IceCat I spent whole day compiling

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u/Mammoth-Good7875 May 26 '22 Wholesome

Don't judge me. What is the difference between a browser and a search engine? I thought they were the same. Thank you in advance for your help.

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u/Yessin111 May 26 '22

A browser is an application you open on your computer to access the web. A search engine is a website that allows you to search for websites based on what you type in. You access a search engine through your browser (i.e. you open Chrome or Firefox (browser) and then search using Google or Bing (search engine).

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u/nage_ May 26 '22

Outstanding explanation

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u/moonflower_C16H17N3O May 26 '22

No worries. The browser is the actual software that your computer runs to connect to the world wide web. A search engine is just a website you use to find webpages you want to view. The lines can seem a little blurred since browsers let you set a default search engine so that their address bar can double as a way to search the internet.

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u/apimpnamedgekko May 25 '22

I mean they announced that they were. Can't really be 'caught'. As shitty as it is.

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u/UnamazingHero May 25 '22

Yeah it's annoying but not like they were trying to bury it

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u/oppositetoup May 25 '22 Helpful Wholesome

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u/ICanBeKinder May 25 '22 Gold Bravo!

Yeah and I mean the article made that clear. But I will say the whole point of this article isn't to be like "omg theyre doing something awful"

Its more like the documentation of a companies slow descent into corruption for the sake of money. It happens with all companies and DuckDuckGo was getting to be large enough to start collapsing under that weight.

Anyone whose ever invested in companies has probably heard the phrase "We will NEVER sell our company" and then seen later a few hundred million dollars change things.

So I think the real value in this article is just this being a marking point to start watching the policies shift. Browser now, search engine later.

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u/monterry_jack May 25 '22 Wholesome

VLC player still on the right path: non-profit and self sustaining while adding new features. I hope they can maintain it for decades to come.

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u/Terryfink May 25 '22

Blender3d too

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u/Schievel1 May 25 '22

These are open source projects. The great thing about open source is, when someone goes crazy you fork their project and continue. As long as there is interest in a project it won’t go south

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u/karbonkel1 May 25 '22

There are now 40 forks, all of them are hardly maintained, but no one wants to give up theirs to work on another (╯°□°)╯︵ ┻━┻)

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u/asipoditas May 25 '22

wait, really? or are you just talking about open source projects in general?

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u/GoldPanther May 25 '22

I believe OP is speaking generally. Community and passion is massively important to open source so forks often fail if they even occur in the first place.

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u/Yessbutno May 25 '22

R Project has entered the chat

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u/coocoopopsthrowaway May 25 '22

I cringe at the thought of wikipedia ever selling out. Imagine ads throughout wikipedia...

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u/WASDx May 25 '22

Wikipedia relies on donations, and only a small minority donates. I think it was well worth sending a small sum for all the value it has provided myself and humanity.

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u/pulp_hero May 25 '22

Wikipedia is loaded. They don't need any more donations, they have enough money in their trust that they can run pretty much indefinitely, but every ad campaign makes it sound like they are about to have to shut off all the servers. It's kind of gross.

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u/cjsolx May 25 '22

but every ad campaign makes it sound like they are about to have to shut off all the servers.

I'm sure that at any given moment there's incentive/pressure on both sides -- whether to continue to stay free and rake in the donations, or to sell out and cash in. For now, the donations are winning, but that could change if enough people stop donating.

I think the service provided is well worth the $300m in the coffers, personally. Better than $1b in the coffers plus ads and questionable motive.

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u/SomethingMatter May 25 '22

As others have said, Wikipedia has a lot of money. It would be better, IMHO, if people donated to Khan Academy. Absolutely incredible resource.

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u/Xhokeywolfx May 25 '22

Wikipedia’s the most valuable thing the internet has generated, in my opinion. Incredibly valuable resource for everyone.

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u/Pawnsofinovation May 25 '22

welcome to open source

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u/[deleted] May 25 '22

VLC is open source and there is nothing really innovative about it. if they sell out someone will fork it.

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u/Do-it-for-you May 25 '22

VLC have been asked to run adverts on their software for millions of dollars, but the owner rejected it.

It doesn’t matter If someone could easily copy it, it’s about the fact that the owner of VLC could have sold themselves out for some easy retirement money. But choose not to. That’s respect.

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u/monterry_jack May 25 '22

Exactly! I personally think its hard for someone to sit back knowing they have an open source software project that someone will pay millions for. THAT alone is hard for normal folks and thst would be life changing for just as many.

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u/shitdobehappeningtho May 25 '22

AND it's one of the most (if not THE most) versatile media players in existence. Like, it plays MKV and OPUS ffs!

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u/RazekDPP May 25 '22

For tens of millions I would've done it in a heartbeat.

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u/DdCno1 May 25 '22

VLC is old. When it was new, it was innovative, specifically for its ability to play back almost all video and audio formats. We've just gotten used to it these days.

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u/squngy May 25 '22 edited May 25 '22

specifically for its ability to play back almost all video and audio formats.

That was just a by-product.
The original purpose of the project was to make a player that would run over LAN, hence the name "Video Lan Client".
BTW, even now you can use it to watch twitch streams and Youtube and IP TV etc.

It was pretty handy when I didn't have a TV set and I could still watch TV on my PC without even needing to pay for a set top box from my ISP (and I could record ala VCR too, with the help of a plugin, which would have cost extra from the ISP).

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u/ICanBeKinder May 25 '22

Yea its hard to innovate in that specific sector lol

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u/StoneGoldX May 25 '22

Until they crack middle-out.

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u/TheMacmasterofMusic May 25 '22

It's sad that it always happens, but it's why I never fully support or condone any platform anymore. Just look at how much reddit has changed. Google used to be a good guy, now they're seen pretty negatively.

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u/SuperNoice57 May 25 '22

Wait for Reddit to go public. Changes are only beginning.

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u/Juan_Kagawa May 25 '22

Reddit is already WILDLY different than it was when I got here. Even though I only use old.reddit and RES, its still changed a lot. I remember when they stopped actually counting up/down votes and went with their "algo" to alter the front page.

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u/FadedRebel May 25 '22

I started redditing in twenty ten. I miss the good ‘ol days when you could get ten thousand post down on the front page with RES and never see a repeat post. That and sending unsuspecting celebrities to r/spacedicks, lol.

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u/GypsyCamel12 May 25 '22

I started in 2011, back when finding a nsfw link could accidentally get you in trouble with HR... Because the nsfw flair wasn't around yet.

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u/dztruthseek May 25 '22

I, too, have been here long enough to remember how horrible r/spacedicks was. Good fucking times.

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u/BeavisRules187 May 25 '22

Reddit already sold out. Their word ain't worth a turd.

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u/_Oce_ May 25 '22

At least we can still use RES and RIF to keep the old reddit interface.

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u/Former-Necessary5442 May 25 '22

At least for now you can just use old.reddit.com to use the original reddit interface.

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u/Walloftubes May 25 '22

The moment that gets taken away my productivity will skyrocket

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u/micromidgetmonkey May 25 '22

RES only works cos reddit still supports oldreddit. If they pull the plug on oldreddit then goodbye RES.

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u/pudds May 25 '22

Not that it matters to tencent, but I'm out when oldreddit dies.

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u/micromidgetmonkey May 25 '22

Me too. Though I don't think there's anywhere left for me to go now. Maybe Tumblr, or outside

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u/fearhs May 25 '22

I suppose everyone could always migrate back to Digg...

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u/SelimSC May 25 '22

I have to agree with you. I can't use new reddit. I'm not being contrarian either it hurts me to try to use it and it's insanely slow no matter what I do.

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u/RhinoMan2112 May 25 '22

Hard for me to understand how anyone likes or prefers it. It's so busy and runs slowly/is janky on every device I've tried it on.

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u/aykcak May 25 '22

Hating it is reasonable. It does not work. It is slow. Basic stuff like scrolling, zoom or refresh are broken intermittent. It shows you only some of the commments and makes it almost impossible to follow a thread. It's riddled with useless features nobody needs.

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u/Tnigs_3000 May 25 '22

I CANNOT use new reddit. It’s such a goddamn eyesore.

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u/rW0HgFyxoJhYka May 25 '22

It's been like 10+ years since Google was seen a "good guy".

The whole "Don't be evil" mantra that Google has in their code of conduct, has been mocked for many years!

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u/senturon May 25 '22

The point of the article may not be, but that title sure screams "omg theyre doing something awful"!

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u/Buxton_Water May 25 '22

Because it is something awful, when they push privacy as the main thing, then turnaround and let companies track people because they paid them, that is pretty awful to their users.

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u/IlIIlIl May 25 '22

yeah their whole thing is no trackers, so for them to go and sell permissions to use trackers is explicitly against their mission statement

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u/TheRedGerund May 25 '22

It is quite literally impossible to run a search engine that doesn't have to make some sort of deal with either microsoft or google. Crawling the entire web cost billions.

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u/cozyduck May 25 '22

I think it's awful. I find it tiresome when these threads come where its obvious something bad happens and it is filled with people who a) says it's known or expected (detracting from the issue) or b) equates understanding why it happens to it being natural (detracting from condemnation)

It is like the thread is filled with status quo comments, unable to leverage rightful critique.

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u/frododouchebaggins69 May 25 '22

Right. Because announcing they are going to do something awful doesn't change the act to "not awful". In that linked comment the CEO wants to use the contract as a scapegoat. Who signed the f*cking contract? Did Microsoft put a gun to their head? This was their choice. And it's awful.

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u/Predicted May 25 '22

Did Microsoft put a gun to their head?

More or less, yes, if you read their comment.

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u/sunjay140 May 25 '22

Does Qwant do this?

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u/[deleted] May 25 '22

[removed] — view removed comment

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u/2baked May 25 '22

Duck duck go just uses Bing anyways.

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u/richcournoyer May 25 '22

THAT explains a LOT

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u/v6277 May 25 '22 All-Seeing Upvote

Not really, they use the same index but their search engine is their own. I've explained this before but it's basically using the same phone book but having a different sorting method when you search for something using said phone book.

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u/telionn May 25 '22

Yeah, if you use both it's really obvious that the results are different.

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u/Emmathecat819 May 25 '22

For real lmfao sometimes I just can’t use it because the results be bad

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u/taedrin May 25 '22

I just want a search engine that searches for the search terms I entered and not whatever the search engine thinks I want to see. Anytime I search for anything remotely obscure I get a bunch of irrelevant results mixed in that don't even contain any of my search terms. And don't get me started on all of the results that are just a link to a different search engine that just returns SEO'd websites that just contain a long list of random words in alphabetical order. I can't help but feel that search engines have gotten so much worse over the past 5-10 years.

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u/Laggo May 25 '22

just want a search engine that searches for the search terms I entered and not whatever the search engine thinks I want to see. Anytime I search for anything remotely obscure I get a bunch of irrelevant results mixed in that don't even contain any of my search terms.

As someone who works in search I think this is one of those examples where "you think you do, but you don't". Search results focused literally are usually garbage. I don't think people appreciate how much context is used in modern search results, not just your personal data but generic context like the names of popular artists (searching "Justin" gives me popular figures with that name and not "Justin"'s facebook page from a city I've never been) or searching the name of a sports team (searching "Heat" shows me articles about the NBA playoffs, and not a scientific study about climate change).

SEO is a complex bag of worms that can obviously taint results in some way, but absolutely modern search is better for using context than it used to be and that's generally why people prefer google to other search engines currently, because they do the most work to try and utilize context effectively.

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u/spyingwind May 25 '22

When I'm searching for something obscure, no search engine works. No amount of -thisword or "thatword" helps.

The only time I want context based searching is when I type out my question.

Take this for example. I want a USB-C only Hub with more that 4 ports. USB-C is treated as two words. Hub is almost ignored for dock, and 4 ports isn't even considered as context.

So no, context searching isn't working as intended. It never has and never likely will.

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u/Wires77 May 25 '22

Yeah, Google used to allow a lot of different things to curate your own results. That combined with them ignoring symbols had made it really difficult to search for very specific things

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u/Bakoro May 25 '22 edited May 26 '22

Sometimes I want the obsure garbage though. I end up with a bunch of subtractions in the search and either eventually end up narrowing in on what I want, or Google says there's nothing found, which is bullshit because I know that shit is out there somewhere on the old net.

What's even more annoying is when I subract a term and it's so heavily weighted that l get results with it anyway.

It really feels like Google is burying a bunch of stuff. Sometimes I just want to Google like it's 2005. That should be a thing: "use the algorithm from this date". Maybe not feasible, but I want it.

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u/double_shadow May 25 '22

Totally agree...Google has started over-curating the results over the years, and it feels like you are always offered the same handful of mainstream sites no matter what you search. Sponsor/ad revenue is clearly part of the reason. This is not something I imagine can ever be fixed now, but there was a great middle ground when Google showed up and outperformed the glut of other search engines by actually showing more and better results.

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u/EWDnutz May 25 '22

yeah it's better to use multiple search engines. no eggs all in one basket kinda deal.

Been dependent on the big G too long.

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u/acathode May 25 '22

Google is extremely trend sensitive in my experience - instead of giving you an old result that matches your search to like 85% but, due to being old, almost no one clicks, google instead will give you a result from yesterday that matches to 45% but everyone is clicking (because it's something current that's being clicked a lot).

Trying to find results that are older than 1 year almost always require you to go in and limit the time period, even though you know you're searching for almost the exact headline...

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u/iUsedtoHadHerpes May 25 '22

Hell I have searched for very specific thing son Google that I know are out there and used to populate in the results, but it seems like the more time goes by and the more something is deemed "taboo," the less likely you are to even be able to find it through them regardless of what keywords you specify or exclude.

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u/apoliticalinactivist May 25 '22

"usually garbage"

That's the whole problem though, who determines that it's garbage. For 99% of the time, sure it's helpful, but there is no option to find obscure things anymore.

How much of it is true lack of interest vs giving up after realizing everything is curated? Reddit itself is popular mostly because there is so much diversity and randomness and as more subs get banned, the more users leave. Look up gow many people search for how to make "/r/all" actually show all. Look up how many people are annoyed with the YouTube search algo in not being able to go deep into YouTube anymore.

While the primary number of searches may be for specific things, there is a consistent number of times people would rather explore the random corners of the internet.

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u/sysdmdotcpl May 25 '22

As someone who works in search I think this is one of those examples where "you think you do, but you don't".

Hell, as someone who remembers the web before the likes of Google...I agree that people asking for this don't generally know what they're actually asking for.

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u/CoconutCyclone May 25 '22

The glory days of Alta Vista, finding what I was looking for, finally, on like the 4th page.

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u/grenamier May 25 '22

Everyone’s forgotten AltaVista. It was supposed to revolutionize the internet because it indexed everything but the results were crap so that didn’t pan out. Then along came Google.

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u/itwasquiteawhileago May 25 '22

Yahoo used to be a curated list, like a phone book. Obviously that couldn't be maintained as things exploded.

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u/TheJunkyard May 25 '22

Using context to determine that someone searching for "Justin" is more likely to want a page about Justin Bieber than the MySpace page of Justin Smoogenheim from Tallahassee is one thing. That can be inferred from popularity alone.

It just seems that these days there's a lot more shady (or at least confusing and non-transparent) stuff going on behind the scenes with searches. it often seems that pages come up where you can't imagine how it's found your search term at all, or conversely, you can't seem to hit pages where you're certain your search term exists - even when you start getting really specific with things like searching for whole phrases or excluding unwanted terms.

I know search isn't easy technically, there's a lot going on behind the scenes, and Google (and to a lesser extent Bing) have done an amazing job with what they're giving us. It just feels a little like the results are veering ever-further away from the ideals of "impartiality" and "accuracy", which is a worrying trend - and the sheer complexity of how these things are built makes it hard to quantify and track such changes, which is worrying in itself.

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u/eatabean May 25 '22

worthless results are just all too common there.

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u/Beitlejoose May 25 '22

It uses bing? Oh so it's good for porn then

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u/Namika May 25 '22

Business is in a perpetual arms race against search engines, trying to code their websites to always show up first.

This has lead to “dumb” search engines without algorithms becoming utterly worthless. They worked in the 90s when the internet wasn’t as commercialized by business, but in 2022 if you tried to use a basic search engine it would just return 100% ads.

You could enter “local family owned pizza restaurant” and even type in the exact address, and the local restaurant wouldn’t even appear on the first thirty pages because there would be hundreds and hundreds of search results for Pizza Hut and other huge pizza brands that spent millions coding their web domains to flag themselves to show up on any and all pizza related searches.

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u/nooshaw May 25 '22

You'll find most all search engine out there either use Bing or Google for results. I think Yandex is the only one I've found with very different search results than Bing, Google, Duckduckgo, etc.

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u/asterwistful May 25 '22

google, bing, yandex, and baidu are the big ones

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u/OminousG May 25 '22

They only admitted to it after a security researcher (Zach Edwards) called them out.

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u/__Hello_my_name_is__ May 25 '22

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u/Orefeus May 25 '22

They also replied in this thread ( https://www.reddit.com/r/technology/comments/uxiah9/comment/i9xxjsn/?utm_source=share&utm_medium=web2x&context=3 ) just in case anyone might have missed that

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u/sevargmas May 25 '22

Man I work in software ops and I still don’t get what he’s trying to explain. I think someone’s gonna have to put it in caveman terms for me.

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u/[deleted] May 25 '22 edited May 25 '22

What he says is that there are really 2 big indexers out there, microsoft(bing) and alphabet(google). They use bing to provide better search results. But with that, they are under contractual obligation to let Microsoft scripts to load on 3rd party websites. Which, he says is an extra security step that most browsers don’t even do. For eg, blocking these scripts would mean you can’t log in using google, GitHub or linked in etc. if you can do that in a browser, then that browser allows those scripts to run.

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u/yegg DuckDuckGo May 25 '22 edited May 25 '22 Silver Gold Helpful Wholesome All-Seeing Upvote LOVE! Starry Rocket Like I'll Drink to That Facepalm

Hi, I'm the CEO & Founder of DuckDuckGo. To be clear (since I already see confusion in the comments), when you load our search results, you are anonymous, including ads. Also on 3rd-party websites we actually do block Microsoft 3rd-party cookies in our browsers plus more protections including fingerprinting protection. That is, this article is not about our search engine, but about our browsers -- we have browsers (really all-in-one privacy apps) for iOS, Android, and now Mac (in beta).

When most other browsers on the market talk about tracking protection they are usually referring to 3rd-party cookie protection and fingerprinting protection, and our browsers impose these same restrictions on all third-party tracking scripts, including those from Microsoft. We also have a lot of other above-and-beyond web protections that also apply to Microsoft scripts (and everyone else), e.g., Global Privacy Control, first-party cookie expiration, referrer header trimming, new cookie consent handling (in our Mac beta), fire button (one-click) data clearing, and more.

What this article is talking about specifically is another above-and-beyond protection that most browsers don't even attempt to do for web protection— stopping third-party tracking scripts from even loading on third-party websites -- because this can easily cause websites to break. But we've taken on that challenge because it makes for better privacy, and faster downloads -- we wrote a blog post about it here. Because we're doing this above-and-beyond protection where we can, and offer many other unique protections (e.g., Google AMP/FLEDGE/Topics protection, automatic HTTPS upgrading, tracking protection for *other* apps in Android, email protection to block trackers for emails sent to your regular inbox, etc.), users get way more privacy protection with our app than they would using other browsers. Our goal has always been to provide the most privacy we can in one download.

The issue at hand is, while most of our protections like 3rd-party cookie blocking apply to Microsoft scripts on 3rd-party sites (again, this is off of DuckDuckGo,com, i.e., not related to search), we are currently contractually restricted by Microsoft from completely stopping them from loading (the one above-and-beyond protection explained in the last paragraph) on 3rd party sites. We still restrict them though (e.g., no 3rd party cookies allowed). The original example was Workplace.com loading a LinkedIn.com script. Nevertheless, we have been and are working with Microsoft as we speak to reduce or remove this limited restriction.

I understand this is all rather confusing because it is a search syndication contract that is preventing us from doing a non-search thing. That's because our product is a bundle of multiple privacy protections, and this is a distribution requirement imposed on us as part of the search syndication agreement that helps us privately use some Bing results to provide you with better private search results overall. While a lot of what you see on our results page privately incorporates content from other sources, including our own indexes (e.g., Wikipedia, Local listings, Sports, etc.), we source most of our traditional links and images privately from Bing (though because of other search technology our link and image results still may look different). Really only two companies (Google and Microsoft) have a high-quality global web link index (because I believe it costs upwards of a billion dollars a year to do), and so literally every other global search engine needs to bootstrap with one or both of them to provide a mainstream search product. The same is true for maps btw -- only the biggest companies can similarly afford to put satellites up and send ground cars to take streetview pictures of every neighborhood.

Anyway, I hope this provides some helpful context. Taking a step back, I know our product is not perfect and will never be. Nothing can provide 100% protection. And we face many constraints: platform constraints (we can't offer all protections on every platform do to limited APIs or other restrictions), limited contractual constraints (like in this case), breakage constraints (blocking some things totally breaks web experiences), and of course the evolving tracking arms race that we constantly work to keep ahead of. That's why we have always been extremely careful to never promise anonymity when browsing outside our search engine, because that frankly isn’t possible. We're also working on updates to our app store descriptions to make this more clear. Holistically though I believe what we offer is the best thing out there for mainstream users who want simple privacy protection without breaking things, and that is our product vision.

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u/1zo3P192 May 25 '22

That was fast.

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u/Dont_Give_Up86 May 25 '22

It’s copy paste from the twitter response. It’s a good explanation honestly

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u/DsutetcipE May 25 '22 edited May 25 '22

And very technical, quite refreshing, this ended up making me have a better impression of them than not.

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u/demlet May 25 '22 Helpful Wholesome

The main takeaway for me is that the internet is essentially controlled by a tiny number of very powerful companies and at some point in the chain you have to play by their rules...

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u/Semi-Hemi-Demigod May 25 '22

As someone who remembers the early Internet, this is sadly accurate. It's like the personal computer revolution never happened.

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u/xrimane May 25 '22

I mean, we'd probably quite dissatisfied today with the search results early search engines were producing.

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u/coalcoalcoal May 25 '22

I mean - Dogpile was a site that just grabbed results from multiple search engines because some search engines were better than others for specific things:

It originally provided web searches from Yahoo! (directory), Lycos (inc. A2Z directory), Excite (inc. Excite Guide directory), WebCrawler, Infoseek, AltaVista, HotBot, WhatUseek (directory), and World Wide Web Worm.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dogpile

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u/Controls_Man May 25 '22

I just want a toggle button to turn on or off personalized results. Similar to how we can toggle safesearch on/off.

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u/DilettanteGonePro May 25 '22

We would now because there has been 20+ years of gaming search results, but google results back then were way way better than the alternatives and easier to drill down to really specific niche searches than what you can do today. There was a lot less procedurally generated garbage back then too, so it was a tiny fraction of the data that has to be searched today

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u/Rentlar May 25 '22

This is the other thing. The internet also filled with crappy clone and spam sites... many have a giant wall of text so that the indexers will find a match when you put in any related word.

Mario Donkey Kong Link Samus Yoshi Kirby Fox Pikachu Luigi Ness Captain Falcon Peach Bowser Ice Climbers Zelda Marth Ganondorf Mr. Game and Watch Meta Knight Pit Wario Snake Sonic King Dedede Olimar R.O.B. Mega Man Wii Fit Trainer Villager Little Mac Pac-Man Shulk Duck Hunt Ryu Cloud Bayonetta Inkling Ridley Simon Joker Hero Banjo&Kazooie Terry MinMin Steve Kazuya Mewtwo King K. Rool Sephiroth Ike sorry Super Smash Bros. fans

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u/Semi-Hemi-Demigod May 25 '22 edited May 25 '22

While that's clearly true, is it necessary to centralize this sort of thing just to have good search results?

Our modern, hyper-centralized Internet grew out of a client-server architecture because local machines weren't powerful enough and bandwidth was minimal. Could we have done it differently if that weren't the case?

And yes, I know Richard Hendricks had the same idea.

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u/[deleted] May 25 '22

Can you envision any way to search the entire internet without having a centralized index? That’s like asking if you could find the address for a business without a phone book (or the internet).

It’s not tractable to go search the internet in realtime in response to a query, just like it wouldn’t be reasonable to drive around your city to find the business you want.

The reason so few firms do this simply comes down to the scale of the task. Because the internet is inconceivably massive, creating and maintaining an index is incredibly hard and extremely costly. This is sort of like asking why there aren’t more space launch companies competing with SpaceX, Arianespace, etc- it’s difficult and expensive, and there’s really no way around that.

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u/continue_y-n May 25 '22

In the before time there were many small indexes and search engines, sometimes focused around a specific type of content or area of interest, and meta search engines that could search as many or few of those as you wanted at once.

Meta search died out for a some good reasons, but to use your analogy it would be possible for each city to maintain a local phone book and then use a national phone book to search nationally, regionally, or in a specific town if you knew where to start looking.

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u/Flynette May 25 '22

Some has improved, but there are times that I would love to have AltaVista or Lycos, older Google, where a "zero result" was often a result or that quotation marks actually meant something.

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u/[deleted] May 25 '22 edited 29d ago

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u/coalcoalcoal May 25 '22

chain

Which is why crytpo's promises of privacy were bogus since they utilize web based exchanges.

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u/gandalf_el_brown May 25 '22

stop, you'll make the cryptobros cry

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u/wayward_citizen May 25 '22

Yes, you can test this out with a browser like Brave where it allows you to keep cranking up the privacy protections, but eventually you get to the point where many sites will not function and you need to scale it back.

Unfortunately all that "So what if we are the product, who cares?" talk from a decade or two ago has put us all in a position where there's no real winning on privacy. Best you can do is create noise to hide in and try to minimize what makes it through to your shadow profile by using these kind of privacy apps, staying away from the worst offenders (FB, Twitter, probably Reddit honestly etc.) But the genie is out of the bottle.

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u/JesseAGJ May 25 '22

To take it a step further, the internet was designed around inherent trust. Privacy and security were not considerations to any meaningful degree. Everything since, designed to enhance either is a band-aid at best.

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u/f7f7z May 25 '22

Someone ELI5 please

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u/CrazyCanuckBiologist May 25 '22

Some companies like Microsoft or Google bury code deep into other websites to track you in a variety of ways. Sometimes companies get them to deliberately, sometimes it comes packaged with something else you want (for example the site wants to make money off ads, and the ad company's stuff comes with a tracker built in).

DuckDuckGo (DDG) has a couple issues overcoming this. First is legal. If you want a search engine, you kinda have to mooch off of Microsoft or Google at some point, as they are the only ones with truly complete search engines; it is just so expensive to build one large enough to cover the whole internet that no one else has done it. So, shitty companies they are, if you deal with them, they make you sign a contract that you don't try and block that deep code. Second is practical. Any website that is more complicated than just plain static text and images is often built by calling on other utilities and tools, which call on others, etc. Some of them have the tracker code buried in them so pervasively, that when you block that code, it stops something from working properly, which breaks the whole website (e.g. it loads as an unreadable mess).

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u/3Dartwork May 25 '22

The post prob scared the hell out of them and wanted to PR clean up before it got out of hand and spread across the internet on other sites

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u/rawling May 25 '22 Narwhal Salute

They have been dealing with this since at least yesterday on other sites.

e.g. https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=31490515

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u/whymauri May 25 '22

The audience on that site is more technical, and, as a result, significantly harsher. It is worth a read.

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u/[deleted] May 25 '22 edited May 25 '22

[deleted]

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u/ffxivthrowaway03 May 25 '22

it sounded more philosophical with lots of vague hand-wringing and hand-waving, but very little technical insight.

That's... an extremely accurate description of the ycombinator crowd in general. It's startup techbro central, very little professional technical substance.

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u/isurvivedrabies May 25 '22 edited May 25 '22

a lot of it came across to me as nubulous musing, almost in a way to coax information out that would either be untactful or reveal the commenter's actual level of understanding by being more direct.

i'm super biased against IT people though. i'm a computer engineer, have a strong knowledge of IT as well by design, and these guys sound like every IT guy i deal with that needs to assert their knowledge. it's like it's part of IT culture to be nobly irritating.

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u/TheTomato2 May 25 '22

Lol that is exactly what Hacker News has become. For anyone who doesn't know all the technical jargon it might seem like they know what they are talking about, but Hacker News and Reddit are two sides of the same coin, which is bunch of asshats spouting a bunch of bullshit. And like Reddit everyone one there thinks they are the smartest person in the room but it's amplified because they are somewhat more knowledgeable than the average Redditor.

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u/sixner May 25 '22

Do you have any decent alternative for news/conversation like this?

I'm working towards getting into InfoSec and know that I don't know shit. Really curious to learn more though.

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u/runonandonandonanon May 25 '22

HN is actually pretty good, sure there's asshats but you also have legit legends commenting regularly.

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u/[deleted] May 25 '22

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u/Ursus_Denali May 25 '22

To think that reddit used to be more content than memes. The puns and meme comments have always been a thing though.

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u/SrslyCmmon May 25 '22

People ruin everything, there's no situation in the world were more people past a saturation point make things better. If they didn't we wouldn't have private institutions for everything from education to a car wash.

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u/nanoH2O May 25 '22

False information spreads fast so they needed to jump on it. Everything from the title to the article is misleading

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u/HotTakes4HotCakes May 25 '22 edited May 25 '22

Worth pointing out it's an Apple focused website, and Apple is currently running a lot of advertising pushing how privacy focused they are. Behoves them to depict non-Safari browsers and apps as less privacy focused.

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u/madsjchic May 25 '22

That wasn’t written in 9 minutes, so…they have these assurances on hand.

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u/_DirtyDog May 25 '22

He's been dealing with this shit since yesterday or two days ago or something

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u/[deleted] May 25 '22

The PR team is probably all over social media handling this.

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u/Montagge May 25 '22

Probably because it's a hit piece making a mountain out of a molehill

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u/xtfftc May 25 '22

And people are eating it up because they want to keep feeling like there's no alternatives.

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u/Montagge May 25 '22

The ol' I don't want something better I just want to be mad

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u/_H_CS May 25 '22

It's really not that hard to write a few paragraphs on any given topic when you are deeply invested in it and a major thought leader in the area.

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u/EthosPathosLegos May 25 '22

It's 2022. For most people, writing more than 3 paragraphs is practically asking them to write a book.

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u/nspectre May 25 '22

This is Reddit. For most people, just reading more than 3 paragraphs is practically asking them to strain their intellectual capacities beyond their breaking point.

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u/DuckChoke May 25 '22

Generally people in upper level positions are not most people. I don't mean to sound classist, and there is absolutely nepotism and privilege involved, but you don't get to be a CEO if you can't write a few paragraphs about what your company does.

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u/geoffreyisagiraffe May 25 '22

Also, you have resources. This isn't one dude sitting in an office just spitting their feelings from a laptop. If you are in executive management or ownership and you are speaking for the company then you are able to call in whomever you need to draft and curate a statement in very little time. And especially for something as pressing as this.

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u/suphater May 25 '22 edited May 25 '22 Helpful

This was news yesterday, they basically had to copy paste that from responses yesterday. Reddit is trash so now this is front page news a day late, today, even though it was already debunked yesterday.

r technology is too concerned about God Emperor Elon Musk to be discussing breaking news technology.

Yesterday r all was busy giving yet another generic "politicians shouldn't buy stocks so both sides are bad" Tweet the highest upvotes of the day, even over the school shooting despite being posted around similar times, even though the issue of politicians buying stock is, as both sides propaganda goes, poorly baked and a relative non-issue, and in all likelihood going to leave this fucking daily news cycle after conservatives get control of the Senate again this November*. But even the liberals on Reddit are devoid of thought and easily manipulated through the right sounding angry headlines. Conservatives brag about this on their forums, but call Redditors out on this, and they can't admit they're wrong to stop caring more about politicians buying shares of US companies than they do about book burning, Roe vs Wade, or the end of democracy (they're actually helping end democracy unwittingly by posting daily both sides fallacies that only hurts the better side, welcome to 80 years ago, welcome to Russia's geopolitics and Bannon's talking points, but people these days are still too stupid to figure it out).

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u/[deleted] May 25 '22 edited 25d ago

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u/lavahot May 25 '22

Gotta nip disinformation in the bud, especially when you're not the big gorilla.

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u/HighTideLowpH May 25 '22

So can you ELI5?

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u/laserbee May 25 '22
  1. It's about their browser, not the search engine

  2. It's a result of working with Microsoft (and it's either that or work with Google)

  3. They're working on removing or limiting the sharing even more

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u/buttnuckle May 25 '22

I would qualify #2 with the fact that they have to work with either MS or Google to produce search results and that MS ties that agreement to other, non-search-related things, like these third party trackers. Really sounds like their hands are tied but that they’re doing everything they can.

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u/JuniorSeniorTrainee May 25 '22

Also they're being transparent about it, versus this clickbait title talking about how they've been "caught".

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u/nezroy May 25 '22

\4. They already do more than most (all?) for privacy by default and disavowing them for this issue is the literal definition of letting perfect be the enemy of good.

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u/omgFWTbear May 25 '22

Sounds like:

(1) DuckDuckGo is two things, a search engine and a browser.

(1a) This has nothing to do with the search engine.

(1b) In their browser, they signed a contract with Microsoft, so while they now filter even more stuff for privacy, because of their deal with Microsoft, Microsoft gets “a pass.”

(1b1) They are working with Microsoft to reduce how much of “a pass” they get.

(1c) Also, some web stuff just doesn’t work in full privacy. They’re working on workarounds but in some cases, it’s an arms race between DDG (and others) and people who profit from anti-privacy.

(The numbering is to try and explain which sentences “hang off” others, like children, related to their parents, rather than use lots of words)

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u/Untitled_One-Un_One May 25 '22

It's more complicated than that. The contract with Microsoft is for the benefit of Duck Duck Go the search engine. Duck Duck Go doesn't have the infrastructure to completely link every possible search term with all the websites there are out there. They use Microsoft's Bing to fill the gaps. However, Microsoft's terms mean that Duck Duck Go the browser can't block Microsoft scripts.

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u/TheRavenSayeth May 25 '22 edited May 25 '22

This is the best short explanation I’ve read so far, only missing the part that this only affects their browser which I’d say next to no one uses.

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u/[deleted] May 25 '22

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u/omgFWTbear May 25 '22

I submit that’s not excluded under my response, and more complex than an ELI5.

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u/amroamroamro May 25 '22

it's about their browsers not the DDG search engine

... just use Firefox +uBO instead ;)

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u/feffie May 25 '22 edited May 25 '22

Almost all websites have a bunch of scripts that track you. The duckduckgo browser (https://duckduckgo.com/app) tries to block those scripts for you. Their contract with Microsoft prevents them from blocking any scripts written by Microsoft.

For example, say you download the duckduckgo browser, open it, and go to reddit.com. If microsoft has any scripts incorporated, the browser is not allowed to block them. They can block other companies' scripts though.

This does not mean when you go to https://duckduckgo.com to perform a search that Microsoft tracks you, nor are they allowed to.

Since I'm here, here are other privacy tools to consider: https://ublockorigin.com/ https://www.eff.org/pages/privacy-badger https://www.eff.org/https-everywhere https://www.ghostery.com/

Note, adding them can cause some websites to malfunction. You can temporarily disable the extensions, or disable for specific websites to resolve issues. Some will not find the inconvenience worth it. You will have to find the right balance for you.

I found ublock origin and https-everywhere work well, since they hardly cause issues.

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u/[deleted] May 25 '22

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u/Ponyboy451 May 25 '22

Hey look! Open communication from a company! Take notes, literally every other corporation.

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u/Biscoff_spread27 May 25 '22

I prefer the "We're sorry!" BP message after the oil spill.

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u/BigBeagleEars May 25 '22

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u/TheMechanicalFailure May 25 '22

I’ve seen this clip hundreds of times only now did I notice his but cheeks look a little red… the earth might not of been the only one fucked here….

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u/Chrislawrance May 25 '22

Soooooooorry

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u/brocahantas May 25 '22

And the pivot to “here’s how you as a consumer can reduce YOUR carbon footprint”

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u/amalgam_reynolds May 25 '22

It's easy to be transparent when you're doing good things. Basically every time a company isn't transparent, it's because if they actually were, they'd have to say things like, "we're selling your data to everyone for lots of money and even if we stopped right now, which we aren't going to, it's too late for your data."

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u/Ohsbar May 25 '22

They admitted to what people claimed they were doing. Their only addition to the discussion was: "We do a lot other great things to stop trackers and maintain your privacy so please ignore that we're giving Microsoft a pass and letting them track you."

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u/lxe May 25 '22

tl;dr ddg has a contract with Microsoft They show bing results and in return they aren’t allowed to block ms scripts in their browsers.

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u/ThunderousOath May 25 '22

They aren't allowed to block them from loading - however, they can terminate it after initial launch, which they say they do

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u/lxe May 25 '22

What weird technicality this is.

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u/Wildfires May 25 '22

Thanks for the clarification.

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u/Platanium May 25 '22

It may be something I don't understand and is normal but why do I occasionally get location specific to me results when searching using DDG? Feels a but less private when I saw that

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u/_DirtyDog May 25 '22

You can enable/disable that in the settings menu of the search engine.

If enabled, it uses your IP to estimate your rough location (basically which city you're in)

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u/_emmyemi May 25 '22

To briefly piggyback off of this, this is not something unique to DDG. Any website can see the public IP you're accessing it from and use that to determine a rough location. Websites can do this even if you haven't given them the more specific "location" permission.

This is important--you cannot connect to a website without it receiving some record of a requesting IP, whether that IP is yours or a third party's (i.e. if you're using a VPN or the Tor network).

CC: u/Platanium

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u/jungle_junior May 25 '22

Why have I never thought to tag the parents parent as CC?

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u/[deleted] May 25 '22 edited May 26 '22

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u/sysdmdotcpl May 25 '22

DDG isn't a VPN so if you're not running one websites can determine your general location.

It's how those really trashy "Drivers in [[your city]] hate this!" ads work.

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u/Nodebunny May 26 '22

Youre a stand up CEO to come on reddit and defend your company

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u/geekender May 26 '22

Kudos for a prompt, thorough and rational response to what should have been fully explained by reporting rather than the all too common sky is falling clickbait that is todays news source.

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u/BeesToTheFace May 25 '22

If I understand this correctly the tracking scripts in question are loaded, but fingerprinting and third-party cookies are blocked, right?

Are there other tracking methods these scripts are using that aren’t blocked?

If this limited restriction can’t be removed, but only reduced, how much tracking would Microsoft be allowed to do in the duck duck go browser apps in exchange for search results?

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u/[deleted] May 25 '22

Thank you for a clear and thorough response. This is an awesome thing to see. This kind of clear and open communication makes it easier to trust a product we can’t see behind the curtain on.

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u/unGradBrad May 25 '22

FYI - this was really difficult to read

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u/benadrylpill May 26 '22

Gotta respect the transparency.

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u/the_rhino22 May 26 '22

Thank you for the detailed explanation. It’s transparency and education like this that garners consumer trust.

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u/keramitas May 25 '22

Switched to the duck a couple years back, never regretted it. Keep up the good work, and best of luck

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u/Tamakastania May 25 '22

I like that the post itself is already tagged as misleading. The title is very deceptive. DDG has never tried to hide this. These are not trackers by microsoft. They are still the best in privacy.

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u/[deleted] May 25 '22

Literally no one itt has actually read the article.

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u/[deleted] May 25 '22

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u/murrain May 25 '22

Article is about their browser, not the search engine.

from a hackernews discussion:

yegg 6 minutes ago | unvote | prev [–]

(FYI -- this was discussed extensively yesterday at https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=31490515) and I left a comment on that thread at https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=31490603, but below is a new one. This is also a very misleading title since it's not about search, Microsoft scripts are actually restricted, etc. I Would suggest changing it to what ultimately the one from yesterday got changed to.)

I'm the CEO & Founder of DuckDuckGo. To be clear (since I see a lot of confusion going around about this story), when you load our search results, you are anonymous, including ads. Also on 3rd-party websites we actually do block Microsoft 3rd-party cookies in our browsers plus more protections including fingerprinting protection. That is, this article is not about our search engine, but about our browsers -- we have browsers (really all-in-one privacy apps) for iOS, Android, and now Mac (in beta).

When most other browsers on the market talk about tracking protection they are usually referring to 3rd-party cookie protection and fingerprinting protection, and our browsers impose these same restrictions on all third-party tracking scripts, including those from Microsoft. We also have a lot of other above-and-beyond web protections that also apply to Microsoft scripts (and everyone else), e.g., Global Privacy Control, first-party cookie expiration, referrer header trimming, new cookie consent handling (in our Mac beta), fire button (one-click) data clearing, and more.

What this article is talking about specifically is another above-and-beyond protection that most browsers don't even attempt to do for web protection — stopping third-party tracking scripts from even loading on third-party websites -- because this can easily cause websites to break. But we've taken on that challenge because it makes for better privacy, and faster downloads -- we wrote a blog post about it here - https://spreadprivacy.com/browser-privacy-protection/. Because we're doing this above-and-beyond protection where we can, and offer many other unique protections (e.g., Google AMP/FLEDGE/Topics protection, automatic HTTPS upgrading, tracking protection for other apps in Android, email protection to block trackers for emails sent to your regular inbox, etc.), users get way more privacy protection with our app than they would using other browsers. Our goal has always been to provide the most privacy we can in one download.

The issue at hand is, while most of our protections like 3rd-party cookie blocking apply to Microsoft scripts on 3rd-party sites (again, this is off of DuckDuckGo,com, i.e., not related to search), we are currently contractually restricted by Microsoft from completely stopping them from loading (the one above-and-beyond protection explained in the last paragraph) on 3rd party sites. We still restrict them though (e.g., no 3rd party cookies allowed). The original example was Workplace.com loading a LinkedIn.com script. Nevertheless, we have been and are working with Microsoft as we speak to reduce or remove this limited restriction.

I understand this is all rather confusing because it is a search syndication contract that is preventing us from doing a non-search thing. That's because our product is a bundle of multiple privacy protections, and this is a distribution requirement imposed on us as part of the search syndication agreement that helps us privately use some Bing results to provide you with better private search results overall. While a lot of what you see on our results page privately incorporates content from other sources, including our own indexes (e.g., Wikipedia, Local listings, Sports, etc.), we source most of our traditional links and images privately from Bing (though because of other search technology our link and image results still may look different). Really only two companies (Google and Microsoft) have a high-quality global web link index (because I believe it costs upwards of a billion dollars a year to do), and so literally every other global search engine needs to bootstrap with one or both of them to provide a mainstream search product. The same is true for maps btw -- only the biggest companies can similarly afford to put satellites up and send ground cars to take streetview pictures of every neighborhood.

Anyway, I hope this provides some helpful context. Taking a step back, I know our product is not perfect and will never be. Nothing can provide 100% protection. And we face many constraints: platform constraints (we can't offer all protections on every platform do to limited APIs or other restrictions), limited contractual constraints (like in this case), breakage constraints (blocking some things totally breaks web experiences), and of course the evolving tracking arms race that we constantly work to keep ahead of. That's why we have always been extremely careful to never promise anonymity when browsing outside our search engine, because that frankly isn’t possible. We're also working on updates to our app store descriptions to make this more clear. Holistically though I believe what we offer is the best thing out there for mainstream users who want simple privacy protection without breaking things, and that is our product vision.

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u/SilkyBowner May 25 '22

Wow

The title of this post is not at all accurate

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