[Source: This article was published in proprivacy.com By Douglas Crawford - Uploaded by the Association Member: Edna Thomas]

Using a private search engine such as StartPage or DuckDuckGo is becoming ever more important. These usually leverage the big search engines in order to return results, but proxy search requests so that Google or Yahoo or Microsoft do not know who did the search. In other words, these see only that the search query came from the privacy search engine.

These privacy search engines promise not to log your IP address or any searches you make. Does this sound good to you? Good. The next question, then, is which privacy search engine to use…

Best Private Search Engine

Here are the best private search engines that are anonymous and make a great Google alternative.

Keep reading this guide to learn more about each private search engine in-depth.

What Does Google Know About Me?

The problem with most search engines is that they spy on you. This is their business model – to learn as much about you as possible, to deliver highly targeted advertising directly to your browser window.

Google has even recently dropped its moratorium on combining what it learns by scanning your emails with what it learns about you through your searches. All the better to spy on you. Information typically collected and stored each time you make a search includes:

  • Your IP address
  • Date and time of query
  • Query search terms
  • Cookie ID – this cookie is deposited in your browser’s cookie folder, and uniquely identifies your computer. With it, a search engine provider can trace a search request back to your computer.

This information is usually transmitted to the requested web page, and to the owners of any third party advertising banners displayed on that page. As you surf the internet, advertisers build up a (potentially highly embarrassing) profile of you.

Of course, if Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo!, etc., know lots about you, this information can be (and often is) handed over to the police and the NSA. So it's a good time to get a Google alternative.

Indeed, it was only recently that evidence emerged showing Yahoo works with hand in glove with the NSA to betray its users to the intelligence service. Naughty, naughty.

Screenshot 1

Google Transparency Report on the number of User Data Requests received, and the number (at least partially) acceded to

The filter bubble: what the internet is hiding from you

An added benefit of using a search engine that does not track you is that it avoids the “filter bubble” effect. Most search engines use your past search terms (and things you “Like” on social networks) to profile you.They can then return results they think will interest you. 

This can result in only receiving search returns that agree with your point of view, and this locks you into a “filter bubble,” where you do not get to see alternative viewpoints and opinions because they have been downgraded in your search results.

Not only does this deny you access to the rich texture and multiplicity of human input, but it can also be hazardous as it can confirm prejudices, and prevent you from seeing the “bigger picture”.

Startpage.com

Startpage2

PROS

  • No logs or tracking
  • Non-targeted ads
  • Can proxy webpages
  • Based in Netherlands
  • Google results

CONS

  • Runs servers in the US (but can you choose non-US servers)

Startpage.com and Ixquick are run by the same company. In the past, Startpage.com returned Google results, while Ixquick returned results from a number of other search engines, but not Google. The two services have now been combined, and both return identical Google results.

Although no longer actively supported, the old Ixquick metasearch engine is still available at Ixquick.eu. Interestingly, despite no longer being actively supported, Startpage.com has recently removed Yahoo results from the legacy search engine. This is in response to news that Yahoo has been helping the NSA spy on its users.

Search results

  • Suggestions are not offered as you type by default, but this can be enabled in settings.
  • Search returns are fast, but perhaps not as fast as those of DuckDuckGo (this is a purely subjective assessment).
  • Presentation of results is very clear.
  • Searches can be only filtered by Web, Images and Video categories. An advanced search option is available that allows you to specify a variety of search parameters, and you can filter results by time.
  • Ads are displayed above the search results. They are clearly marked as ads and are not mixed with the “pure” search results.
  • Video results display an image preview. YouTube cannot be played directly on the Startpage website for privacy reasons and will open in a new tab. 
  • Search results are pulled directly from Google and are therefore very good.

Startpage

Ads are discrete but clearly labeled

How it makes money

Much like DuckDuckGo, Startpage.com makes money from ads and affiliate links. 

These ads are untargeted, clearly marked, and not mixed in with the “real” search returns. They are somewhat more prominently displayed than with DuckDuckGo, however.

Privacy

  • Startpage is based in the Netherlands, which has strong privacy laws.
  • It runs servers collocated in the US. These are owned and controlled by Startpage, and I am assured that they are secure against government snooping. If this worries you, however…
  • It is possible to use non-US servers only (or non-EU servers).
  • Web pages returned from searches can be proxied (see below).
  • Startpage is the only privacy search engine that has been independently audited.
  • Qualys SSL labs security report: A+

Features

Startpage.com’s killer feature is that, rather than visiting a website directly, you can proxy the connection. If you select this option, then a proxy server run by Startpage.com sits between your computer and the website.

 This prevents the website from knowing your true IP address (much like a VPN), and from being able to use web tracking and fingerprinting technologies to identify and track you. It also blocks malicious scripts. 

The downside is that pages load more slowly since StartPage.com must retrieve the contents and re-display them. That said, the newly re-branded and redesigned "Anonymous View" is much faster than was previously the case. It also breaks websites much less because it allows JavaScript "while rewriting and 'redefining' JavaScript primitives to protect your privacy." 

I must say that this is a terrific feature and one that can significantly improve your privacy. Given its downside, however, you probably won’t want to use it all the time.

My thoughts

With its new re-design, StartPage.com matches DuckDuckGo in terms of prettiness and user-friendliness.

But thanks to being based in the Netherlands and having nothing to do with Yahoo, it should be more resistant to NSA spying than its US-based rival (if you specify non-US servers!). And the ability to proxy web pages is an absolute doozy.

DuckDuckGo

DuckDuckGo

PROS

  • No logs or tracking
  • Looks great
  • Discrete non-targeted ads
  • Bangs
  • Contextual filters

CONS

  • US company
  • Uses Amazon servers
  • Yahoo results

DuckDuckGo is “The Search Engine that Vows Not to Track You”. Gabriel Weinberg, the CEO and founder of DuckDuckGo, has stated that “if the FBI comes to us, we have nothing to tie back to you.”

It is a US-based company and is the most popular and high-profile of the privacy search engines. Searches are primarily sourced via Yahoo, with whom DuckDuckGo has a strong relationship.

This is very worrying given recent revelations about its ties to the NSA, but DuckDuckGo continues to promise that it does not collect or share personal information.

Search results

  • DuckDuckGo offers search suggestions as you type in a query.
  • Search returns are speedy.
  • This includes image and video search returns.
  • Presentation of results is very clear.
  • Search filter categories include Web, Images, Videos, Products, Meanings, Definition, and News. Displayed filters are adaptive, and DDG will initially show results under the filter category that it feels is most appropriate to the search terms. Depending on the filter selected, DuckDuckGo may display image, video or Wikipedia previews at either the top of the search page or in a box to the right of the results.
  • Ads may also be displayed to the right of search results. Paid ads are clearly marked as such, are discreet, and are never mixed in with the “pure” search returns.
  • Image results, however, can only be filtered by size (Small, Medium. Large).
  • Video results display a thumbnail preview. YouTube videos can be played directly from DDG the website, but a warning alerts you to the fact that these will be tracked by YouTube/Google.
  • Results can also be filtered by country and date (Anytime, Past Day, Past Week or Past Month).
  • Subjectively, I find the quality of DuckDuckGo’s search returns to be very good. I have seen complaints, however, by others who do not find them as good as those from Google. This is one reason why “bangs” are so useful (see below).

DuckDuckGo1

Here we can see both the contextual filter in actual (auto-direct to Products) and DDG's discrete ads

How it makes money

DuchDuckGo displays adsalongside its search results. These are sourced from Yahoo as part of the Yahoo-Microsoft search alliance. By default, when advertisers sign up for a Bing Ads account, their ads automatically enter rotation into all of Bing’s distribution channels, including DuckDuckGo 

Importantly, however, these ads are untargeted (they are displayed based on your search terms). And as already noted, they are clearly marked and are shown separately from the “pure” search returns.

DuckDuckGo is part of the affiliate programs of Amazon and eBay. When you visit those sites through DuckDuckGo and subsequently make a purchase, it receives a small commission. No personally identifiable information is given out in this way, however, and this does not influence search result rankings.

Privacy

DuckDuckGo states that does not collect or share personal information.

  • An affiliate code may be added to some eCommerce sites (e.g., Amazon & eBay), but this does not include any personally identifiable information.
  • Being based in the US means that DuckDuckGo is subject to government pressure and laws such as FISA and the Patriot Act. This means that the US government could mandate that DuckDuckGo start logging its users’ activities. And prevent the company from alerting users to this fact via a Gag order.
  • DuckDuckGo uses Amazon servers. Again, this is a US company, subject to pressure from the US government.
  • Qualys SSL labs security report: A+

Gabriel Weinberg, CEO of DuckDuckGo, has contacted me regarding this article. Please see the Update at the bottom of this page for his answers to some criticisms expressed here.

Features

In addition to its rather nifty contextual filters, the most striking feature of DuckDuckGo is “bangs”. 

These allow you to search other websites quickly and easily. For example, typing !guk before a search query will return Google UK search results, and typing !a will search the Amazon store for you.

Note that bangs take you to the website in question. The searches are not proxied, so you lose an element of privacy if you bang Google directly. Fortunately, there is a solution. You can combine bangs with Startpage.com (see review above) by typing !s or !sp, and because Startpage.com uses Google, you can have the best of both worlds.

My thoughts

DuckDuckGo offers good looking and easy-to-use interface, although some may prefer Google to the primarily Yahoo-based search results.

Bangs are a killer feature, however, and one that goes a long way towards compensating for this issue. Just remember that if you want to query Google and protect your privacy, it makes sense to bang into StartPage.com with the !s or !sp for Google search results in privacy instead of going to Google directly.

It is little surprise, then, that DuckDuckGo is so popular. But the fact that it is a US company should sound a note of caution.

SearX

SearX

PROS

  • Can be self-hosted
  • Choose which search engines to leverage
  • Can proxy webpages
  • No ads

CONS

  • Public instances could be logged

Less well-known, but fast gaining traction with the security community is SearX. Not only is SearX fully open source, but it is easy to set up and to run your own instance of it.

There is an official public SearX instance, or you can use one of many volunteer-run public instances. But what SearX is really about is running your own instance. This makes SearX the only metasearch engine where you can be 100 percent sure that no logs are kept!

Search results

  • By default, SearX leverages results from a large number of search engines.

Search results

In Preferences, users can change which search engines are used

  • Search suggestions are not offered
  • Searches can be filtered by the following categories: General, Files, Images, IT, Map (using OpenStreetMap), Music, News, Science, Social Media, and Videos. They can also be filtered by time.
  • There are no ads.
  • Wikipedia entries are displayed to the right of search results.
  • There are no additional filters for Images, although a preview is displayed when they are clicked on.
  • Video results display a thumbnail preview. Clicking on a video takes you to the website it is hosted on (for example YouTube or Vimeo).
  • Search results can be downloaded as a .csv, .json., or rss file.
  • As with Startpage, search results can be viewed proxied. This will “break” many websites, but does allow for a very high level of privacy.
  • Search results are as good as the engine’s selected. The official instance uses Google, Bing, Wikipedia, and a host of other first-rate engines by default, so the results are excellent.

Search results 2

The are no ads, search suggestions are listed to the right, and as with Startpage, you can proxy webpages

How it makes money

SearX is an open source project run by volunteers. On the official instance, there is no on-site advertising and no affiliate marketing.

Because it is open source, individual operators of public SearX instances are free to introduce their own finance models. But I have yet to find a single instance that is not 100 percent ad and affiliate-free.

Privacy

  • There is no way to know if a public SearX instance operator is logging your searches. And this includes the official instance.
  • That being said, there is no way to guarantee that DDG, Startpage, or any other “private” search engines are not logging your searches either…
  • If you are serious about privacy, therefore, you should set up your own SearX instance. In fact, setting up your own SearX instance on a server that only you directly control is the only way currently available to guarantee that your searches are not logged.
  • This makes self-hosted SearX instances by far the most secure search engines available. Documentation for installing your own SearX instance is available here.
  • For the casual user, public SearX instances are unlikely to log your searches and are much less likely to be monitored by the likes of the NSA than the other services mentioned here.
  • Just remember, though, that there is no way to be sure of this.
  • Qualys SSL labs security report for searx.me (the official instance): A. Note that each SearX instance (public or private) is different in this respect.

Features

As with Startpage, the ability to proxy websitesis a killer feature if you can live with it breaking many websites that you visit. 

 

My thoughts

For serious tech-savvy privacy-heads, a self-hosted SearX instance is the way to go. Simply put, nothing else is in the same league when it comes to knowing for certain that your searches are not logged.

More casual users may also be surprised at how well the software works on public instances. My personal feelings are that these are much less likely to log your searches or be spied on by the US and other governments than DuckDuckGo, Startpage or Disconnect. But this is purely speculation.

Disconnect Search

PROS

  • No logs or tracking
  • No ads
  • Choice of search engines

CONS

  • US company (so beware the NSA)
  • Uses Amazon servers (so beware the NSA)

Before writing a Disconnect review, we knew the US-based company had made a name for itself with some excellent open source privacy-oriented browser extensions. One of these is the open-source Disconnect Search add-on for Firefox and Chrome (a non-open source Android app is also available).

This browser add-on is still the primary way to use Disconnect Search, although a JavaScript web app is available. This mimics the browser extension, and allow you to perform web searches from the Disconnect Search web page.

Disconnect also markets a Premium VPN and online security app, with Disconnect Search functionality built-in. Please see my Disconnect review for more details on this.

Search results

  • Searches are usually made from the browser add-on.
  • You can select which of three search engines to query: Bing, Yahoo or DuckDuckGo (default).
  • Unlike the other privacy metasearch engines discussing this article, Disconnect does not display search returns on its own website. Results are simply routed through Disconnect’s servers to hide their origin and are then opened in the selected search engine’s webpage.
  • Incognito mode searches are supported.

The browser extension

The browser extension

How it makes money

Disconnect markets a Premium product, but the Disconnect Search browser extension is free. It hides your IP when doing searchesbut then sends you directly to the selected search engine. 

This means that Disconnect performs no advertising or affiliate marketing of its own when doing a search.

Privacy

  • Disconnect is a US company and is therefore not a good choice for the more NSA-phobic out there.
  • The browser extension is open source, but search requests can still be logged by Disconnect, as they are made through its servers.
  • Disconnect hosts its service on Amazon servers.
  • Qualys SSL labs security report: A (this is for the Disconnect.me website).

My thoughts

The Disconnect Search browser extension provides a quick and easy way to hide your true identity while doing searches using your favorite search engine. The fact that Disconnect is US-based, however, is a major issue. 

Honorary mention: Peekier

Peekier is a new no-logs search engine. There is not enough information about this service currently available for me to give it a proper assessment. It is worth mentioning, however, because of the attractive and innovative way that it displays search results.

search

In a field were where, if we are honest, most search engines look pretty similar, it is great to see a different approach. I, therefore, think it worth flagging up Peekier and keeping an eye on the service to see how it develops.

Privacy Search Engines Conclusion

Using any of these services engines will significantly improve your search privacy. Crucially, your searches will not be recorded to help build a profile that is used to sell you stuff. All the search engines I looked at in this article are easy to use and return good results.

Will these services protect your searches from government surveillance (and the NSA in particular)? In the case of US companies, it is safest to assume not. But unless you are doing something very illegal, this may not concern you (although it should).

Startpage is non-US based, has been independently audited, and allows you to access websites with a great deal of privacy thanks to its proxy feature. It is, therefore, a much better choice for privacy-heads than DuckDuckGo.

Public SearX instances are less likely to be monitored than other higher-profile search engines, but they may be. It is also likely that you will know nothing about their operators. Running your own SearX instance on hardware directly under your control, however, is an extremely secure and private solution. And is therefore only one that I can recommend to serious privacy fanatics.

The fact the SearX has a great interface and returns on-the-button results from all the major search engines is the icing on the cake.

 

Categorized in Search Engine

[Source: This article was published in lifehacker.com By Mike Epstein - Uploaded by the Association Member: Joshua Simon]

The internet, as a “place,” is constantly growing. We build more and more webpages every day—so many, in fact, that it can feel as if certain corners of it are lost to time.

As it turns out, they may only be lost to Google. Earlier this year, web developer-bloggers Tim Bray and Marco Fioretti noted that Google seems to have stopped indexing the entirety of the internet for Google Search. As a result, certain old websites—those more than 10 years old—did not show up through Google search. Both writers lamented that limiting Google’s effective memory to the last decade, while logical when faced with the daunting task of playing information concierge to our every whimsical question, forces us to reckon with the fact that, when you use Google for historical searches, there are probably more answers out there.

As a BoingBoing post based on Bray’s points out, DuckDuckGo and Bing both still seem to offer more complete records of the internet, specifically showing web pages that Google stopped indexing for search. If you’re looking for a specific website from before 2009 and can’t find it, either one is a solid first step. If that doesn’t work, it’s always possible someone else who needed the same page you were looking for saving it as an archive on the Wayback Machine.

But what about broad questions? Questions where you don’t already know the answer? Historical research from the early web? There are other, more specialized options for that. A Hacker News forum post suggests a couple of search engines. Million Short, which allows you to run a search and automatically skip the most popular answers to probe deeper into the web. Wiby.me is a “search engine for classic websites,” made to help people find hobbyist pages and other archaic features of the internet.

The Hacker news thread also brings up Pinboard, a minimalist bookmarking service similar to Pocket, which has a key feature for archivists: If you sign up for its premium service—$11 per year—Pinboard will make a web archive of every page you save. If you’re looking at older, unindexed material, such a tool can make it easier to go back to specific parts of the older internet that you may want or need to recall again.

Categorized in How to

[Source: This article was published in hothardware.com By Rod Scher - Uploaded by the Association Member: Robert Hensonw]

We have all heard of the dark web: a lawless digital world, uncharted and unstructured, full of data -- much of it illegally acquired and illegally for sale -- that cannot be viewed without special tools: proxy servers, TOR browsers, and the like. It's a murky and mysterious place, a place where much information resides but is difficult to unearth for the uninitiated.



Until now. Canada's Echosec Systems Ltd. recently released Beacon, a security tool that's designed to shed some light on the dark web.

Karl1
 Karl Swannie is the CEO of Echosec, the company behind Beacon

"Beacon is a dark web search engine that allows users to search anonymously, without the need for a TOR browser," says Echosec CTO Michael Raypold. "We’ve designed Beacon to be simple to interact with, while incorporating powerful advanced search tools, making searching unindexed data in the dark web as easy as using a surface web search engine."

The idea behind Beacon is that it can be used by a company to potentially head off -- or at the very least mitigate -- a potential disaster. Since the bulk of the data on the dark web is essentially unstructured, the Echosec team crawled the dark web, indexed its content and then build a natural language query interface that allows non-hackers to access that information quickly and easily. Simply put, Beacon is like Google for the dark web.

small beacongrab

With Beacon, dark web data can be searched by a variety of criteria. Specific types of data (credit cards, emails, etc.) can be searched for explicitly.


Keep in mind, of course, that not everything on the dark web is illegal.

Says Raypold, "The dark web is a place where you can source illegal or illicit materials because the inherent privacy and anonymity baked into platforms like the TOR network makes buying and selling these goods easier to achieve without repercussions. However, that isn’t to say everything on the dark web is illegal. News organization like the NYTimes and Pro Publica maintain Onion sites for their more privacy-conscious users and to help disseminate news that might otherwise be censored." Still, much of the dark web's content was acquired illegally and can be misused to spread misinformation, victimize vulnerable populations, execute social engineering exploits, or engage in various forms of identity theft.

We all know that information in the wrong hands can be dangerous. Raypold cites the story of Coca-Cola's attempt, some years back, to acquire a Chinese soft drink company. Unbeknownst to high-level Coca-Cola executives, the company's secret plans and negotiation tactics were in fact not secret at all, because Coca-Cola had been previously hacked, thanks to a phishing email opened by a Coca-Cola exec.

Beacon did not exist at that time (2009), but it's likely that some of the information retrieved from the hack and many pilfered emails would have ended up on the dark web; if so, Beacon could have unearthed them, letting the company know of its vulnerability long before 2009 and perhaps allowing Coca-Cola to mitigate the damage. (In the end, the acquisition fell through, most likely because Coca-Cola -- having lost control of its confidential information -- had also lost any leverage it might have had in the negotiations.)

The goal of Beacon, says Raypold, is to allow companies to easily examine data on the dark web as a way of locating the potentially harmful information that’s stored there: this could include stolen corporate emails, company documents, personal info, or other such data that could be detrimental to a company, its brand, or its customers. After all, if your data has been compromised, it's always better to know than not to know.

Mike
Mike Raypold is the CTO of Echosec, LTD.

"Beacon allows teams to more quickly identify and respond to information that can materially damage a company’s brand and consumer trust," says Raypold. "Being able to quickly identify a sensitive problem also means that you can start putting a solution in place and notify your customers before they find out through other means."

Of course, a security tool is but another weapon in the wrong hands, and weapons can be misused; it's one thing for a pen-tester or white-hat hacker to be in possession of systems that can locate or uncover data, but what about someone finding a way to misuse Beacon? While Raypold notes that it is possible to misuse Beacon, since the tool makes it easier for users to locate data they might otherwise have difficulty finding, he says that the company has taken steps to mitigate that danger.

"First, every Echosec customer must go through a use-case approval process to determine how the customer is using the application and to make sure they are in compliance with the vendors from whom the data Is sourced," says Raypold. "If a potential customer cannot pass the use-case approval process, they do not get access to the system."

Second, the company has built automated tools and manual processes into its platform and into the company workflows to notify the Echosec team if users attempt to run searches that are in violation of their approved use case.

"The checks built into the platform will outright prevent some searches from being run, so that users never receive data that we perceive could be used with malicious intent. Furthermore, some of the vendors from whom we source data have asked us to prevent certain queries from being run, regardless of a customer's use case," says Raypold. (Naturally, the company publishes an "acceptable use" policy, which can be found here.)

Echosec expects to sell Beacon mainly to corporate customers interested in keeping tabs on their intellectual property, corporate secrets, and other sensitive data. White-hat hackers -- such as pen-testers -- could conceivably be a market as well, but the company feels that would be fairly uncommon. And if it did occur, it would simply be viewed as an example of contracted security experts acting on behalf of the ultimate corporate customer.



However, (and by whomever) Beacon is used, it looks as if the murky landscape of the dark web is no longer quite as dark as it once was.

Categorized in Deep Web

[Source: This article was published in observer.com By Harmon Leon - Uploaded by the Association Member: Paul L.]

On HBO’s Silicon Valley, the Pied Piper crew’s mission is to create a decentralized internet that cuts out intermediaries like FacebookGoogle, and their fictional rival, Hooli. Surely a move that would make Hooli’s megalomaniac founder Gavin Belson (also fictional) furious.

In theory, no one owns the internet. No. Not Mark Zuckerberg, not Banksy, not annoying YouTube sensation Jake Paul either. No—none of these people own the internet because no one actually owns the internet.

But in practice, a small number of companies really control how we use the internet. Sure, you can pretty much publish whatever you want and slap up a website almost instantaneously, but without Google, good luck getting folks to find your site. More than 90 percent of general web searches are handled by the singular humongous search engine—Google.

If things go sour with you and Google, the search giant could make your life very difficult, almost making it appear like you’ve been washed off the entire internet planet. Google has positioned itself as pretty much the only game in town.

Colin Pape had that problem. He’s the founder of Presearch, a decentralized search engine powered by a community with roughly 1.1 million users. Presearch uses cryptocurrency tokens as an incentive to decentralize search. The origin story: Before starting Presearch, Google tried to squash Pape’s business, well not exactly squash, but simply erase it from searches.

Let’s backtrack.

In 2008, Pape founded a company called ShopCity.com. The premise was to support communities and get their local businesses online, then spread that concept to other communities in a franchise-like model. In 2011, Pape’s company launched a local version in Google’s backyard of Mountain View, California.

End of story, right? No.

“We woke up one morning in July to find out that Google had demoted almost all of our sites onto page eight of the search results,” Pape explained. Pape and his crew thought it was some sort of mistake; still, the demotion of their sites was seriously hurting the businesses they represented, as well as their company. But something seemed fishy.

Pape had read stories of businesses that had essentially been shut down by Google—or suffered serious consequences such as layoffs and bankruptcy—due to the jockeying of the search engine.

“Picture yourself as a startup that launches a pilot project in Google’s hometown,” said Pape, “and 12 months later, they launch a ‘Get Your City Online’ campaign with chambers of commerce, and then they block your sites. What would you think?”

It was hard for Pape not to assume his company had been targeted because it was easy enough for Google to simply take down sites from search results.

“We realized just how much market power Google had,” Pape recalled. “And how their lack of transparency and responsiveness was absolutely dangerous to everyone who relies on the internet to connect with their customers and community.”

google

Google’s current search engine model makes us passive consumers who are fed search results from a black box system into which none of us have any insight. Chris Jackson/Getty Images

 

Fortunately, Pape’s company connected with a lawyer leading a Federal Trade Commission (FTC) investigation into Google’s monopolistic practices. Through the press, they put pressure on Google to resolve its search issues.

This was the genesis for Presearch, ‘the Switzerland of Search,’ a resource dedicated to the more open internet on a level playing field.

“The vision for Presearch is to build a framework that enables many different groups to build their own search engine with curated information and be rewarded for driving usage and improving the platform,” Pape told Observer.

But why is this so important?

“Because search is how we access the amazing resources on the web,” Pape continued. “It’s how we find things that we don’t already know about. It’s an incredibly powerful position for a single entity [Google] to occupy, as it has the power to shape perceptions, shift spending and literally make or break entire economies and political campaigns, and to determine what and how we think about the world.”

You have to realize that nothing is truly free.

Sure, we use Google for everything from looking for a local pet groomer to finding Tom Arnold’s IMDB page. (There are a few other things in between.) Google isn’t allowing us to search out of the goodness of its heart. When we use Google, we’re essentially partaking in a big market research project, in which our information is being tracked, analyzed and commoditized. Basically, our profiles and search results are sold to the highest bidders. We are the product—built upon our usage. Have you taken the time to read Google’s lengthy terms of service agreement? I doubt it.

How else is Sergey Brin going to pay for his new heliport or pet llama?

Stupid free Google.

Google’s current model makes us passive consumers who are fed search results from a black box system into which none of us have any insight. Plus, all of those searches are stored, so good luck with any future political career if a hacker happens to get a hold of that information.

Presearch’s idea is to allow the community to look under the hood and actively participate in this system with the power of cryptocurrency to align participant incentives within the ecosystem to create a ground-up, community-driven alternative to Google’s monopoly.

“Every time you search, you receive a fraction of a PRE token, which is our cryptocurrency,” explained Pape. “Active community members can also receive bonuses for helping to improve the platform, and everyone who refers a new user can earn up to 25 bonus PRE.”

Tokens can be swapped for other cryptocurrencies, such Bitcoin, used to buy advertising, sold to other advertisers or spent on merchandise via Presearch’s online platform.

Presearch’s ethos is to personalize the search engine rather than allowing analytics to be gamed against us, so users are shown what they want to see. Users can specify their preferences to access the information they want, rather than enveloping them in filter bubbles that reinforce their prejudices and bad behaviors, simply to makes them click on more ads.

“We want to empower people rather than control them,” Pape said. “The way to do that is to give them choices and make it easy for them to ‘change the channel,’ so to speak if the program they’re being served isn’t resonating with them.”

Another thing to fear about Google, aside from the search engine being turned on its head and being used as a surveillance tool in a not-so-distant dystopian future, is an idea that’s mentioned in Jon Ronson book, So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed. People’s lives have been ruined due to Google search results that live on forever after false scandalous accusations.

How will Presearch safeguard us against this?

“We are looking at a potential model where people could stake their tokens to upvote or downvote results, and then enable community members to vote on those votes,” said Pape. “This would enable mechanisms to identify false information and provide penalties for those who promote it. This is definitely a tricky subject that we will involve the community in developing policies for.”

Pape’s vision is very much aligned with Pied Piper’s on HBO’s Silicon Valley.

“It is definitely pretty accurate… a little uncanny, actually,” Pape said after his staff made him watch the latest season. “It was easy to see where the show drew its inspiration from.”

But truth is stranger than fiction. “The problems a decentralized internet are solving are real, and will become more and more apparent as the Big Tech companies continue to clamp down on the original free and open internet in favor of walled gardens and proprietary protocols,” he explained. “Hopefully the real decentralized web will be the liberating success that so many of us envision.”

Obviously an alternative to Google’s search monopoly is a good thing. And Pape feels that breaking up Google might help in the short term, but “introducing government control is just that—introducing more control,” Pape said. “We would rather offer a free market solution that enables people to make their own choices, which provides alignment of incentives and communities to create true alternatives to the current dominant forces.”

Presearch may or may not be the ultimate solution, but it’s a step in the right direction

Categorized in Search Engine

[Source: This article was published in techbullion.com By Linda S. Davis - Uploaded by the Association Member: Anna K. Sasaki]

A large research project can be overwhelming, but there are techniques that you can use to make your project more manageable. You simply need to start with a specific plan, and focus on effective search techniques that take advantage of all available resources. By working smarter rather than harder, you will not only finish your project more quickly, but you will also acquire higher quality information than you would be able to find through hours of unfocused researching. Follow the tips below to increase your efficiency and improve the quality of your work.

Try to Start with Broad Overviews

The best way to understand a topic is to start your research by reading a general overview. This will help you to focus your research question, lead you to valuable sources and give you context for understanding your topic. High school students and students in introductory courses can consider beginning a research project by reading encyclopedia articles. Students doing more advanced or specialized research should look for review articles in appropriate journals. In addition to helping you understand your subject, the resources section of an encyclopedia article or the extensive bibliography of a review article will provide you with quality sources on your informative topics without the need to search for them. This can save you hours of needless work.

Formulate Questions

If you go to the library or perform a computer search in order to research a large topic, like the American Revolution or genetic theory, you will be quickly overwhelmed. For this reason, you should formulate specific, focused questions to answer. By asking yourself how England’s involvement with other European powers influenced the American Revolution or how imaging techniques contributed to the development of genetic theory, for example, you will be able to focus your research and save yourself time.

Have a Plan

Before you start your research, have a goal in mind, and make a plan for reaching this goal. If you just go poking around the internet or the library, you are unlikely to get much accomplished. Instead of searching blindly, focus on answering the specific questions you have formulated, locating a certain number of resources, getting a broad overview of your topic or some other specific goal. Setting small, achievable goals will make your task less overwhelming and easier to complete.

Take Notes

Many students gather sources by collecting books, articles, and lists of bookmarks without reading or even skimming them until the project deadline looms. This creates a time crunch. To avoid this situation, spend time taking notes in a notebook, on note cards or on your computer. As you research, jot down applicable information from your sources, and note where this information is located. By taking notes as you go, you will be better able to gauge how much more research is necessary. You will also make writing your paper, preparing your presentation or completing your project a quicker and simpler undertaking.

Master Google Searches

Google is a search engine with many powerful features that allow you to find what you want quickly. Unfortunately, many students are unaware of these features, so they spend needless hours wading through pages of irrelevant search results. By spending a few minutes on Google’s tips pages, you can learn how to get the most out of internet searching.

Take Advantage of Top Lists

Most university and regional libraries have various subject-specific lists of resources on their web pages. These are well-organized, comprehensive listings of quality sources from each library’s specific collection of databases and e-resources, and they cover a large variety of topics. Rather than spending your time wading through substandard resources, peruse the lists offered by your library, and save yourself some time.

Ask a Librarian for Help

Reference librarians can help you find what you need quickly and teach you research tricks that will help you on your current project in addition to future projects. By asking for help, you can save yourself time and frustration. Even if you cannot go to the physical library, most libraries also offer consultations over the phone, by e-mail or through virtual chat platforms.

Categorized in Online Research

[Source: This article was published in gritdaily.com By Faisal Quyyumi - Uploaded by the Association Member: Jason bourne]

recent study conducted by Yext and Forbes shows consumers only believe 50 percent of their search results when looking up information about brands.

Yext is a New York City technology company focusing on online brand management and Forbes, of course, is a business magazine. Over 500 consumers in the United States were surveyed for the study.

FINDINGS

57 percent of those in the study avoid search engines and prefer to visit the brand’s official website because they believe it is more accurate.

50 percent of those surveyed use third-party sites and applications to learn more about brands. 48 percent believe a brand’s website is their most reliable source.

20 percent of “current and new customers trust social media sites to deliver brand information,” according to Search Engine Journal. 28 percent of buyers avoid buying from a certain brand after they have received inaccurate information.

WHY DON’T THEY BUY?

A few reasons why consumers do not buy from a brand is due to unsatisfactory customer service, excessive requests for information and if a company’s website is not easy to navigate.

Mar Ferrentino, Chief Strategy Officer of Yext said: “Our research shows that regardless of where they search for information, people expect the answers they find to be consistent and accurate – and they hold brands responsible to ensure this is the case.”

The study says customers look at a brand’s website and search engine results for information. This information includes customer service numbers, hours, events, and a brand’s products.

A BETTER WAY TO MARKET ONLINE

The three best practices that brands can use for a customer to have a seamless experience is to maintain, guarantee and monitor.

The company should maintain present-day information and complete accuracy on its website along with an easy-to-use search function. The study also tells brands “guarantee searches return high-quality results by ensuring that tools like Google My Business and other directories have updated and correct information”. Lastly, a brand needs to be active and respond to questions and posts online on social media, corporate websites and review sites.

Companies are doing their best to keep up with consumer expectations for an authentic experience.

Many people use third-party sites such as Google, Bing or Yelp because they are able to compare and categorize numerous products at once.

CONSUMERS HESITATE

New users and consumers are often hesitant and require time to build trust with a company, whereas current customers have confidence in the brand and help by writing positive reviews. 45 percent of customers “say they are usually looking for customer reviews of brands of products when they visit a third-party site” (Forbes).

Reviews determine whether consumers will avoid buying a product or if they want to continue interacting with the vendor.

True Value Company, an American wholesaler, is changing their marketing strategy to adapt to a more Internet-based audience. “We’ve made significant technology investments – including re-platforming our website – to back that up and support our brick and mortar stores for the online/offline world in which consumers live,” said David Elliot, the senior vice-president of marketing.

Despite branding on social media becoming more popular, it does not fall in the top 50 percent of most-trusted sources for brand information.

A 2008 study done by Forrester Research, an American based market research company, shows how much consumers trust different information sources. The sources range from personal emails to Yellow Pages to message board posts.

The most trusted is emails “from people you know” at 77 percent; followed by consumer product ratings/reviews at 60 percent and portal/search engines at 50 percent. The least trusted information source is a company blog at only 16 percent.

Corporate blogs are the least dependable information source to consumers as these should be the most reliable way for companies to express and share information with their audience.

The study shows the significance of a brand’s online marketing strategy. It is vital for companies to make sure their website looks like a trustworthy source.

Companies don’t need to stop blogging — but instead, have to do it in a trustworthy and engaging manner.

Want to read the full report? Click here.

Categorized in Search Engine

[Source: This article was published in nytimes.com By Whitson Gordon - Uploaded by the Association Member: Patrick Moore]

Even if you’re already a Google pro, these tricks will get you to your desired results even faster.

Like it or not, Google is most people’s portal to the internet. And when you’re searching for something simple — like the latest news about Iran — Google will usually get you what you want on the first try. But if you’re trying to find something a bit more niche, you may need to do some digging. Here are a few tricks to keep up your sleeve that will make life easier.

Use quotation marks to find a specific phrase

It’s one thing to search for a couple of words, like Sony HT-Z9F soundbar, and find the product(s) you’re seeking. But let’s say you need more specific information — like the dimensions of the speaker drivers inside that soundbar. Searching for HT-Z9F soundbar driver diameter does not return any pages that list that particular spec, nor does including the word inches. Instead, we need to think about how this would exactly be phrased on the page, and use quotation marks to narrow our search.

When you put quotation marks around a collection of words, it tells Google to look for the words only in that order. So, sony HT-Z9F inch drivers (don’t worry, capitalization doesn’t matter) will search for any page that has the words “inch” and “drivers” on it — but not necessarily together. Searching HT-Z9F soundbar “inch drivers” on the other hand, narrows our search considerably, producing a result right at the top that lists the exact spec we’re looking for: 2.5-inch drivers. (If you can’t find the terms you searched for on the resulting page, press Ctrl+F on your keyboard — Command+F on a Mac — to locate your words on that page.) Bonus tip: If you’re looking for a specific page but aren’t sure the exact words it uses, you can put an asterisk in those quotes to symbolize any word. For example, if you forgot the title of Taylor Swift’s dance-pop single from “1989,” you could search taylor swift “* it off” and find the “Shake It Off” lyrics you’re hunting down.

Exclude words with the minus sign

It’s frustrating when a search returns oodles of results that have nothing to do with what you’re looking for. This is especially common with homonyms — words that are spelled and pronounced the same but have different meanings. For example, let’s say you’re searching for a music group to play at your wedding. Searching for wedding bands brings up a ton of results, but most are for wedding rings — often called bands — not musicians that play at wedding receptions. The minus sign is your friend here. Think of a word that would appear on all the irrelevant pages — in this case, “jewelry” or “jeweler” is probably a good bet — and include it with a minus sign in your search: wedding bands -jewelry. Just like that, you’ve got yourself a bunch of sites that review wedding bands across the country.

I also use this often for products with similarly-named siblings — say, Apple’s MacBook line, which includes the MacBook, MacBook Air, and MacBook Pro. Getting too many results for the Air and Pro? Just eliminate them from your search with macbook -air -pro and you’ll get more relevant results.

Narrow your search to a specific time period

If your head is spinning after that last one, here’s an easy tip for you. Occasionally, search results will consist of older articles that have ranked on a given topic but haven’t been updated to include recent changes. If you encounter this problem, you can put a date restriction on the results by clicking the Tools button under Google’s search bar, and then clicking the “Any Time” drop-down. You can narrow your results to the previous week, month, year, or a custom time frame.

Search your favorite sites with the “site:” operator

If you’re looking for an article you read a while back, but can’t find now — or if you specifically want to see what one of your most trusted sites has to say about a topic — you can use the site: operator to limit your search to that specific publication. (This is especially useful for sites that don’t have a search function — though it’s often better than a site’s built-in search bar, too.)

Let’s say I want to read about the Iran nuclear deal, but I prefer coverage from The New York Times. Instead of just Googling US iran deal for the latest news, I can search site:nytimes.com Iran deal to see coverage only from The Times. This also allows me to see everything The Times has done on the topic going back weeks or months, rather than my results getting cluttered with versions of today’s news from other publications.

Add search shortcuts to your browser’s address bar

Ready for a more advanced lesson? Tricks like the site: operator are great, but they take a while to type out — especially if you search for Times content regularly. You can save yourself precious seconds on every search by creating a short keyword for bits of text you search regularly, if your browser supports it, and most do. That way, instead of typing site:nytimes.com every time, you can just type nyt in your browser’s address bar, add your search terms, and get right to the good stuff.

To do this, perform an example search on Google, then copy the URL from the address bar. Using the above example, my

URL is: https://www.google.com/search?q=site%3Anytimes.com+iran+deal

This is what we’ll use to create our shortcut. In Chrome, right-click the address bar, choose “Edit Search Engines,” and click “Add” to create a new one with nyt as the keyword. In Firefox, right-click the Bookmarks Bar and create a new bookmark instead with nyt as the keyword. Paste the search URL you copied earlier into the “Search Engine” or “Location” box, and replace your search terms with %s (making sure to leave in any terms you want to keep as part of the keyword). So, since I want my nyt shortcut to search site:nytimes.com and whatever search terms I add, my URL would look like this: https://www.google.com/search?q=site%3Anytimes.com+%s

See how I replaced iran+deal with %s in the URL? Now, whenever I type nyt into the address bar, I can search The New York Times for any terms I want. I use this for all kinds of common searches: sites I like (nyt searches site:nytimes %s), authors I trust (jk searches Jolie Kerr %s), or — if you want to get really advanced — other URL tricks, like getting driving directions from Google Maps (http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&source=s_q&hl=en&q=from+123+main+street+to+%s).

Find the source of a photo with reverse image search

Finally, not all searches are made up of words. Sometimes, it can be handy to know where a certain photo came from, or to find a larger version of it. You probably know you can type a few words to find a photo with Google’s Image Search, but you might not have realized it works in the other direction too: Drag an image into Image Search and Google will find other versions of that photo for you. A few years ago, I was searching for an apartment, and found one that looked great — it had the number of bedrooms I needed, in the part of town I wanted to be in, and the photos looked nice. But I found it on one of those “members only” apartment listing sites, so I had to pay a monthly subscription in order to get the name, address and contact info of the complex. Not to be outdone, I dragged the building’s photo to my desktop, then dragged it into Google Images. Google immediately found another site that had used that photo: the building’s official website, where I could call or email and ask directly about open units for rent.

Google isn’t the only site that has this feature, either. TinEye is a similar tool with a few more options, if you’re trying to find where the image first appeared. EBay’s iPhone and Android apps also let you search by image, which is useful if you’re trying to find a rare piece of china with no markings, or something like that. It doesn’t always work, but when you’re in a bind, it’s worth a shot — and if nothing else, it may give you another clue to add to your search terms.

Categorized in Search Engine

[Source: This article was published in aei.org By Shane Tews - Uploaded by the Association Member: Jennifer Levin]

Mozilla announced last week that its Firefox browser will begin using the DNS over HTTPS (DoH) protocol by default in late September. Google plans to begin testing DoH in an upcoming version of Google Chrome in October.

To provide some context, it’s important to note that there are multiple pathways through which internet traffic runs across the world that are supported by numerous back-up structures managed by ISPs and enterprise systems.

The strength of these networks and the internet as a whole has been in the decentralized system of global servers that manage the ever-growing amount of internet traffic. Multiple servers provide redundancy and eliminate single points of failure, and the decentralized process allows many users to use the internet infrastructure without having just a few companies own the routes for the internet’s traffic.

Companies that provide these underlying services are responsible for the transport layer that gives the internet its robust nature. They are the navigators of web traffic from consumers to endpoint providers. These networks mitigate cybersecurity risks for web traffic by deploying cybersecurity tools, detecting and mitigating malware and botnet attacks, and more. They also deploy site blockers mandated by the governments for schools and libraries, and parental controls on home networks.

DoH was designed to encrypt web-lookup traffic as part of a new privacy setting, and fundamentally changes how traffic moves on the web. Under DoH, the Chrome or Firefox browser will send all search traffic to a preferred DNS resolver by default, not by the user’s request. This enhances the browser’s knowledge of a user’s habits and interests. It will also obfuscate details about web traffic, breaking many of the Domain Name System (DNS) based controls around malware and monitoring which will no longer be visible or detectable to the network operator passing the traffic directly to Google (in the case of Chrome), or Cloudflare (in the case of FireFox).

The re-engineering by Google’s Chrome and Mozilla’s Firefox browsers is thus looking to change the architectural structure of how their users resolve internet queries making the browser the top of the pyramid, rather than the traditional endpoint. This means Google and Mozilla are working (again) on making network operators such as internet service providers (ISPs) “dumb” pipes whose job will be to transmit and receive encrypted information that only the Google browser, Chrome, or the Firefox browser served up by Cloudflare will be able to see.

As I explained in a previous blog, there are significant concerns around changing the way traffic flows from the current decentralized-by-design process, to a company-specific, centralized process that pushes consumers’ web queries directly to a specific search engine. By nature, browsers are designed to serve up ads to users, not monitor or filter traffic for security concerns.

This change to the usual path of internet traffic will enhance the browsers’ consumer data collection and create security concerns regarding the operation of the network. Google sees the change to its Chrome browser and Android mobile operating system as a method to centralize all traffic and have it flow to their network first. This ensures that it runs under Google’s control, moving from Google’s search engine to the next stop, the actual web address the user wants to go to.

The security concerns arise from the fact that DoH in its current design disables many cybersecurity tools on user devices. Due to the fact that web query traffic will go directly to the application layer of a specific browser through the chosen path of the browser company, not the choice of the enterprise IT system or ISP, the monitoring filters on ISPs or enterprise network servers will no longer see the DNS query traffic. DoH-enhanced encryption means only the browser sees the traffic, bypassing standard security management tools.

This plan has network operators concerned about what will be affected, modified, or broken once this change takes place. What are the trade-offs? What one group calls “surveillance” another calls ad traffic for revenue. DNS was designed to be a decentralized network for efficiency. Now its engineers are concerned about concentrating so much traffic through an edge provider’s browser.

Why does this matter?

The advent of internet governance was meant to ensure a multi-stakeholder audience of the technical community, businesses, law enforcement, and advocacy groups for end users was engaged in any discussion around a change of the network architecture, as well as changes in policies for the use of the internet.  It was always the expectation that the networks comprising the backbone infrastructure would be a significant part of these discussions to ensure operational integrity and security for all internet users.

Allowing a few companies to gain control over even more internet traffic by making a simple change in how users request and receive data could be a game-changer for the entire system. Paul Vixie, one of the original engineers of the Domain Name System, recently stated that “DoH is incompatible with the basic architecture of the DNS because it moves control plane (signaling) messages to the data plane (message forwarding), and that’s a no-no.”

Now is an excellent time to hit the pause button on the DoH proposal and let internet operators do what they do best. It would be better for all internet users to ensure no harm to the underlying network will be done before making a significant change to the architecture of the digital economy’s engine.

Categorized in Search Engine

[Source: This article was published in enca.com - Uploaded by the Association Member: Rene Meyer]

In this file illustration picture taken on July 10, 2019, the Google logo is seen on a computer in Washington, DC. 

SAN FRANCISCO - Original reporting will be highlighted in Google’s search results, the company said as it announced changes to its algorithm.

The world’s largest search engine has come under increasing criticism from media outlets, mainly because of its algorithms - a set of instructions followed by computers - that newspapers have often blamed for plumenting online traffic and the industry’s decline.

Explaining some of the changes in a blog post, Google's vice president of news Richard Gingras said stories that were critically important and labor intensive -- requiring experienced investigative skills, for example -- would be promoted.

Articles that demonstrated “original, in-depth and investigative reporting,” would be given the highest possible rating by reviewers, he wrote on Thursday.

These reviewers - roughly 10,000 people whose feedback contributes to Google’s algorithm - will also determine the publisher’s overall reputation for original reporting, promoting outlets that have been awarded Pulitzer Prizes, for example.

It remains to be seen how such changes will affect news outlets, especially smaller online sites and local newspapers, who have borne the brunt of the changing media landscape.

And as noted by the technology website TechCrunch, it is hard to define exactly what original reporting is: many online outlets build on ‘scoops’ or exclusives with their own original information, a complexity an algorithm may have a hard time picking through.

The Verge - another technology publication - wrote the emphasis on originality could exacerbate an already frenetic online news cycle by making it lucrative to get breaking news online even faster and without proper verification.

The change comes as Google continues to face criticism for its impact on the news media.

Many publishers say the tech giant’s algorithms - which remain a source of mysterious frustration for anyone outside Google -- reward clickbait and allow investigative and original stories to disappear online.

Categorized in Search Engine

[Source: This article was published in flipweb.org By Abhishek - Uploaded by the Association Member: Jay Harris]

One of the first question that someone who is getting into SEO would have is how exactly does Google rank the websites that you see in Google Search. Ranking a website means that giving them rank in terms of positions. The first position URL that you see in Google Search is ranked number 1 and so on. Now, there are various factors involved in ranking websites on Google Search. It is also not the case that you can’t rank higher if your website’s rank is decided once. Therefore, you would have the question of how does Google determine which URL of a website should come first and which should be lower.

For this reason, Google’s John Mueller has now addressed this question and explains in a video how Google picks website URL for its Search. John explains that there are site preference signals which are involved in determining the rank of a website. However, the most important signals are the preference of the site and the preference of the user accessing the site.

Here are the Site preference signals:

  • Link rep canonical annotations
  • Redirects
  • Internal linking
  • URL in the sitemap file
  • HTTPS preference
  • Nicer looking URLs

One of the keys, as John Mueller has previously mentioned, is to remain consistent. While John did not explain what he means by being consistent, it should mean that you should keep on doing whatever you do. Now, one of the best examples of being consistent is to post on your website every day in order to rank higher up in search results. If you are not consistent, your website’s ranking might get lost and you will have to start all over again. Apart from that, you have to be consistent when it comes to performing SEO as well. If you stop that, your website will suffer in the long run.

Categorized in Search Engine

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