I found a new search engine (after Google signed me up to another mystery service)

I’ve a bit more reason to moan about Google of late, after a few more dodgy happenings on the site.
   But before I do, some good news: I found a very good search engine. And it’s not Bing.
   Ironically, one of the alternatives to Google search that I liked was Yahoo!, but even that company now has switched to Bing. However, it still has some search tools that others can tap in to.
   From what I know, Duck Duck Go (or, to use the site’s own convention, DuckDuckGo) takes some of those data and supplements its own. It’s surprisingly comprehensive and accurate—something I could not call Cuil, which once saw itself as a Google-killer.
   I got a similar feeling in 1998 when I first saw Google. ‘Wow, this is much better than AltaVista!’ Now with Google doing more evil, Duck Duck Go is a breath of fresh air. None of that ‘supplemental index’ BS, either. It also promises that it won’t store your private information. That, too, feels revolutionary in 2010.
   I liked Google better, too, when it just delivered good services, and didn’t bother with who I am or tried to pretend it was a social network.
   Here’s the real kicker: the founder of Duck Duck Go, Gabriel Weinberg, emailed me after I sent in a compliment. I remember when either Jerry or David did that back in 1994 or thereabouts on Yahoo!. You’ll be lucky to get that now.
Now, as promised, Google-dissing time.
   You’d think I’d have got most of it out of my system earlier this year with the privacy flaws I discovered around the time of the Google Buzz débâcle.
   But you’d also think that Google would have learned from that mistake. Apparently not.
   First up, here’s a screen shot of my old Google profile. I had deleted it once post-Buzz, but reinstated it because, ironically, it was the only way to remove Buzz. (Deleting my profile did not, as Google would have you believe, remove Buzz when the service was forced on me back in February.)
   I found an option in my profile (which had not been there prior to February) that claimed to prevent my name being found, if I unchecked it. It also said that by unchecking that option, one could not use Buzz and Latitude.
   I should also point out that I do not have a Gmail account.

I don’t know what that says to you, but I would have thought that that meant I would never get Buzz.

   What part of ensuring that my name could not be found did Google not understand? What other US laws has it violated this time?
   It’s pretty rich for a company that did not have, the last time I looked, a privacy policy for Buzz.
   So, I went and deleted my profile again. This time, it did kill Buzz, though I still have 777 connections in my Social Search. How does it know, if I am no longer supplying data for that?

I also really don’t want to know the 285 friends-of-friends’ searching habits and Tweets. (It still insists I have four blogs with them—the actual number is zero. I wouldn’t trust Google to be able to do arithmetic correctly.)
   But here’s one big down side to not having a Google profile. Google suggests you can be contacted through the company by not signing up to a profile with them! In your Google account, there is now this:

You can’t have that box unchecked without creating a Google profile. What sort of a con is that?
   Some of you may remember when I whinged about Google saying I was signed up to a bunch of services I never knew about. Google goes one better now: it preempts new services and forces them into your account:

You are now a member of something that hasn’t even been invented yet! This is probably how, after all, it got all those Buzz users earlier this year. Google has “pre-consent”!
   Clicking on ‘New Service’ results in a 404. I don’t know what game Google is playing, but something is rotten in Mountain View.
   I can moan all I want, but I have acted and have drafted a letter asking Google to remove the unwanted services from my account. I would delete the whole account, but for a couple of services where colleagues have asked me to set things up (notably Analytics for the Medinge Group website—contrary to Google’s own claims, I cannot remove myself as an administrator).
   So why whinge? Hopefully it’ll have you checking your own Google accounts to make sure there aren’t unwanted things there.

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5 thoughts on “I found a new search engine (after Google signed me up to another mystery service)

  1. Added Duck Duck Go to my search engine menu in Firefox. Thanks!

  2. You are welcome! I wouldn’t push it if I didn’t think it would measure up. Even got a thank-you from them on Twitter for having mentioned it, which is nice.
       I see Daisy has left Vox. :(

  3. Small correction, if you please, Jack: she left Six Apart, but still maintains her VOX blog (last post was on the 10th).

  4. I checked my settings and they seem to be correct, apart from Orkut being listed, which I’m pretty sure I didn’t sign up for. I’ve removed now anyway.

    To get back to your post – I can see why you’re annoyed about this. I’m not one of those people who believe Google is trying to take over the world, but I do think they are naive about the privacy of their members. I’m guessing it’s because they use these products internally where privacy isn’t such a big issue, but forget that out here in the wild people like to be able to control what they use and who can locate them.

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