DuckDuckGo continues to gain larger audience

The privacy-focused search engine appeals to growing group of users
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DuckDuckGo reported phenomenal growth last year, and it's no wonder.

In a time when our privacy is continually being eroded, and every day there seems to be a new revelation about government surveillance, many people are looking away from major search engines like Google and Bing and moving to DuckDuckGo, a service that guarantees it doesn't save your search information.

First, let's look at the numbers and see just how fast it grew. According to a company blog post, the search engine served more than a billion searches in 2013. As you can see from the graphic below, since June when the Snowden revelations began, the number of people using DuckDuckGo has grown with each passing month.

That they share this traffic graph with the public is part of the general transparency used by this search engine, but the chief draw is that it won't save your information, and unlike Google or Bing, it is not serving ads based on your search.

Last year, we went One on one with DuckDuckGo CEO Gabriel Weinberg and asked him what made his search engine different and how he ensured privacy. Here's what he had to say:

"In short, two reasons. First, we are legally bound by our privacy policy and could go to jail if it was found to be willfully violated. Second, our entire reputation is stacked on our privacy policy and willfully violating it would ruin us. We literally do not store personally identifiable user data such as IP addresses, so if the NSA were to get a hold of all our data, it would not be useful to them since it is all truly anonymous," Weinberg told us at the time.

And it appears to be a message that's resonating as more people are concerned over not just government snooping, but also corporate snooping. People know that companies like Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Amazon and Apple are in the information business as much as anything else, and they are using the data they are collecting about us. A search engine that doesn't do this has a growing appeal.

Moving forward, this is very likely to be an even bigger issue and it will be interesting to see if the growth continues. I have to believe it will as privacy is on the forefront of public debate in 2014.

For more information:
- see the DuckDuckGo blog post

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