Tom Parker, writing for Reclaim the Net:
The founder of DuckDuckGo, a Google-alternative search engine that has touted its “unbiased” search results for years, has announced that it has started down-ranking sites based on whether they’re deemed to be associated with Russian disinformation.
This piece does a pretty good job of pointing out the concern with this change where most others have missed the point. We want search engines to rank results based on relevancy and that can be determined by numerous factors. That’s literally what search engines do. But they’re making a determination as to whether or not a piece of content is “disinformation” and then down-ranking content based on that. That’s an editorial decision.
And what if they’re wrong? What if they down-rank content that is later found to be true? What if someone is specifically looking for “disinformation” content for research purposes — to see what the opposing perspective has to say in order to better form their opinions or to point at the absurdity?
While this certainly isn’t the end of DuckDuckGo, I wouldn’t consider it to be a positive change. It’s one of the reasons (along with privacy concerns and a dislike of centralization of power/influence) that I moved away from Google so many years ago. I would prefer to make my own decisions on these types of matters.
I don’t use DuckDuckGo directly anymore, that changed last year when I started self-hosting SearX. But I still use DuckDuckGo as one of the search engines powering SearX’s results. I don’t expect this news will change that because the results I get are still much better with DuckDuckGo included than without them.
I still have my eye on Brave Search, though. 92% of their results across all users comes from their own index and they don’t filter results for editorial reasons. I’m not sure if I’m ready to switch to them, but I like a lot of what they’re doing in this space.