How to navigate through the search engine jungle

These days, search engines are an integral part of most people's everyday lives. The answers to almost any question can be found with a just a few clicks, but this convenience comes at a price. When we get something from a big search engine like Google, the trade-off is our personal information — everything we do online can be tracked, monitored and stored in their databanks for all kinds of uses. So when you're using the internet — and sometimes even when you're not —  it's always good to keep in mind that your every move is being watched.

For example, this picture showed up where you'd least expect it — on the Google Maps Streetview feature. It's only one of many surprises you'll find if you use this geolocation tool. Check out these other great examples.

Today, choosing a search engine is almost a political act. Every time you click you're allowing yourself to be pulled further into the "web" of online monitoring that keeps track of everything we read, write and watch online. A huge information industry has grown out of this activity and continues to exert more and more power over our everyday lives, and the more powerful these companies become, the more influence they have over public policy and commercial activity. So what does all this mean for us?


If you're concerned about your privacy and are curious to see what other sources of information are out there, you should take some time to consider which search engine you're using. Once you start looking you'll see that there are a lot of good options for people who don't want their every move being tracked and monitored. Here's a list of search engines for you to compare...

1. Google — The Monster

With well over 60% of search engine market share Google is by far the most popular, and that means the company has access to a lot of personal information. It's a household name, and at the moment it seems like it's on course to become the entire internet. It's important to know that Google stores all of our searches, clicks, emails and pictures in its database. You might think you don't have anything to hide, but do you really want all of this personal info available to anyone with access to their database?

2. DuckduckGo — The Anonymous One

DuckduckGo is an alternative search engine that aggregates results from every other search engine except Google. The real plus here is that the service doesn't track your online movements or store any of your personal information — no IP address, no cache, no cookies. This means that you can surf completely anonymously.


3. Quora — The Personal Touch

If you're looking for answers to questions, Quora offers a community of people who love to share their knowledge. Simply type in your question and you instantly get a list of information provided by this enthusiastic online community. The community is well-managed so you can expect to get reliable answers.


4. Ecosia — The Environmentalist

It's a very cool idea: for every search query entered, the company plants a tree. What a great way to enjoy the benefits of modern technology while also knowing that you're doing something good for nature.


5. Million Short — The Hipster

This newcomer works like Google in that it scours the net for the most popular results. But the difference here is that it offers filter options that allow you to remove the top 100, top 1000, or even the top 1 million results. What's the benefit? You can get past all the sponsored sites and repetition to get to some useful info that might be buried deep in the results. It also combs through social media pages to get the "freshest" results. This means you get the most current information on any topic which is good if you're following a breaking news event, for example.

So now that you're aware of the alternatives, which search engine do you think is the right one for you? If you're still not sure, at least try out some of the alternatives. You might just be pleasantly surprised with the results.




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