When you need to delete your browsing history on Google Chrome or the other major search engines, you get a humorous message that reminds of the possibility of using incognito or private mode. This way, you wouldn’t be stuck with the chore of clearing your browsing history. The browser wouldn’t remember anything.
Incognito mode doesn’t do what most people think it does
The term incognito may come with the ring of real privacy. You may think that it helps you keep your activities out of the view of others. For the most part, though, the mode only makes sure that there is no record of your activities on your own computer. As far as your privacy is concerned, just about everyone else can see what you’re doing — such as Google, all the advertisers signed up with Google, your Internet service provider, and even the government, should they choose to investigate your Internet activity for any reason.
It’s in the nature of Google to keep track of user information, and put it to profitable use. The company is the world’s largest advertising business, after all. If it really helped people stay private, it would lose money.
If you truly want to not be tracked (say, because you’re watching videos about certain sexual preferences and you don’t want Google to target you with advertising related to them), you’ll need to use a search engine that isn’t run by an advertising agency — like DuckDuckGo.
DuckDuckGo is a search engine. It certainly isn’t in the same league as Google or even Bing when it comes to search depth. For instance, while Google’s index has 40 billion pages and Bing has 13.5 billion, DuckDuckGo is in the lower single-digit billions. This means that most of the Internet flies under its radar. It’s perfect for most regular searchers. Additionally, it offers you real privacy, and not the fake privacy of incognito mode.
So who cares about privacy?
Certainly, to most people, loss of privacy would make no appreciable difference right now. It would result in little more than a few targeted ads. If you are inclined to take the long view, though, protecting your privacy can be important.
Here’s an example. When Germany began to computerize its electoral rolls with the first punch card computers in 1933, everyone was fine with the idea. Then, when the Nazi party came into power, it found the neatly computerized lists very convenient in its mission against the Jews.
Protecting your privacy is also about freedom of thought and speech. Should you be in trouble with the law one day, your digital trail could be used against you. Moving to a search engine that refuses to record anything that you do, leave alone sell it to the highest bidder, is one step in the right direction. Privacy can also be also about sticking it to the man.
As a bonus, switching to a privacy-guarding search engine like DuckDuckGo comes with conveniences that Google doesn’t offer.
You get social media profiles right on the search page
If you’re on Google and you need to see someone’s social media profile, you need to actually go to the Twitter or Facebook websites for it. On DuckDuckGo, you don’t. You only need to use a search modifier to see it right on the search page. If you need a Twitter bio, for instance, you only need to type in their handle. For Google+, you only need to type in G+, and then the name of the person.
If you do want to go in to look at all the information available on the full website, that’s easier on DuckDuckGo, too. You only need to learn the right modifier — the exclamation point. On DuckDuckGo, the feature is called bangs. If it’s LinkedIn you want, for instance, you need to type in !linkedin, followed by the person’s name. It works on all kinds of websites, too, not just social media. !A, for instance gives you Amazon results.
You get automatic link shortening and expansion
Shortened URLs can be great when you want to share links. With Google, though, you need to go look for a special service that will do it for you. On DuckDuckGo, it’s all right there inside the search engine. Whatever URL you have, you only need to use the modifier shorten ahead of it to shorten it, and expand to expand it.
Do word processor stuff
If you need to count the number of words in a passage or change the case of a sentence, on DuckDuckGo, it’s all right there. Prefixing any string of words with the modifier uppercase turns it turns all all-caps for it. Prefixing it with the title case modifier only capitalizes the first letters. The chars and you get the number of letters.
If you’re learning programming, there’s a lot of fun to be had
DuckDuckGo is a kind of geek’s search engine, and it does offer plenty of features for them, programming conveniences being among the most useful. You get to make conversions from binary to decimal, create machine-readable URLs, look up hexadecimal color codes, generate ASCII art and so on. It can be great to have a go-to source for the little needs that tend to turn up.
The primary reason to use such a search engine, though, is to protect your privacy. It may appear to mean little now;it’s a step for freedom and rights, though.