advice on search engines
Search engines have steadily merged and consolidated over recent years, so the choice is now limited.
Google dominates search, followed a long way behind by Microsoft's Bing. It is generally a very good search engine in terms of comprehensiveness and relevance of its results but we can't recommend it for several reasons.
- Google (actually, its parent company Alphabet) is an advertising company. It makes its money by gathering vast amounts of information about the people who use its products (e.g. the Google search engine, YouTube, Gmail, Google Maps, Google Street View, Google Pay, Google Translate, Fitbit and the Android mobile phone operating system).
- The majority of Web sites (roughly 80%) contain hidden links to Google in return for supplying the site with its usage statistics. That means that Google also knows which pages on those sites a user looks at, in what order and for how long.
- Google is able to aggregate information for an individual across all of these sources.
- Advertisers buy this information from Google so that its adverts appear on Web sites. This is done by an extremely fast, real-time automated bidding system so that the highest bidder gets its advert displayed on the page you view.
- Google gathers, stores and profits from this information without the consent of users and largely without their knowledge.
- Google's search results themselves give a bias towards companies that pay most (Sponsored Ads).
- Google stores a user's search history and subequent search results give a bias towards what it judges will interest the user or will agree with.
If you are concerned about the privacy of personal information about you, we recommend using Startpage. Startpage is based in the Netherlands, specialising in privacy technology. It gets its search results by acting as a proxy for Google Search. It submits your query to Google on your behalf, gets the results and displays them to you. Google therefore knows nothing about you but you get the benefit of its vast index and of the relevance of its results.