How to breakout of the search duopoly

Currently, I use SearXNG because I value privacy, but also open source software. In the past, I have also used DuckDuckGo and Startpage, as they’re the premier offerings in the private search space.

But why is that? It’s because they offer search results from Bing and Google respectively. While they do this privately, it seems almost comical to suggest switching from Bing and Google, to proxies of themselves.

The problem is, it takes a long time and a lot of resources to create a search index, which not only means these companies have a headstart, but also means it’s practically impossible to dethrone them.

What then, is the solution? Qwant? They claim to have their own index, but counterclaims about them simply using Bing have been made, and they’re not fully private (which disqualifies them here).

There’s also Brave now? They too claim to have their own index, but strangely they advertise their optimization of that index against Google? I feel like that defeats the purpose, right? They’re also run by a questionable company, so I trust them less as a result.

What about SearXNG then? Well, to be honest, it’s not always reliable, but that aside, it’s just another proxy. I have the instance I use configured to fetch results from DuckDuckGo, Startpage, and Qwant.

I’m unsure if that is more private than simply Bing and Google, since it’s all going through SearXNG, but regardless, my queries all still depend on the duopoly. Even if Qwant really has their own index, they don’t account for all results.

To be honest, I provably would use Qwant standalone, but its practices make that difficult: it’s only supported in their list of countries, and worse than that: it makes you select one.

As a bilingual and future trilingual person living in a country that doesn’t speak English, it’s impossible for me to select one that returns just “results”. I’d have to instead pick between local results in another language, or English results for the UK.

I don’t like or trust Brave either, so I don’t really see what better options I have than the one I’m currently using. I find it disappointing though, that I spend so much effort avoiding these two companies, only for them to be my gatekeepers to internet searching. What are you doing about this?

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Search engines are only a privacy concern if they can identify the user making the search, and sites like StartPage and DDG do solve the privacy issue.

I personally have no issue with using Google or Bing as long as the search can be anonymized.

Search engine filtering and result ranking is another issue, but it isn’t a privacy issue, which you can try and solve buy by using SearX and combine the search result from all the engines.

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I do have an issue with that, which is the primary reason for posting this.

I don’t think combining multiple search engines on SearXNG fixes the reliance issue. And I really don’t like the pure concept of depending on two companies for all my search results, even outside of privacy.

A new search engine doesn’t mean you are going to find a lot of new data that Google and Bing somehow missed.

You can combine the results from multiple engines and rank them after your own personal bias, I don’t understand what you think a new search engine would bring to the table.

I don’t think they’ve “missed” anything, but their decisions and algorithms voluntarily exclude results.

For that reason I don’t think it’s a good idea to rely on one or two companies that basically control how we see the internet.

A new search engine, that actually has its own index, would bring better results for everyone, and would end the reliance duopoly.

That was one of the reasons why Qwant was created. I don’t know to what extent that engine is really autonomous, but anyway, from my point of view, you can’t have any better that SearX/SearXNG since they combine the results of several engines and avoid profiling and presenting “personalised” results. The latter is my main concern with the classical search requests.

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It seems that hosting my own SearXNG instance creates one that is more reliable, albeit not as fast due to the hardware I’m running it on. I’m using that right now, with privacy-respecting search engines such as DuckDuckGo, Startpage, and Qwant added as sources.

This way, all devices in my setup only connect to privacy-respecting search engines, including the device my SearXNG instance is on. And I have the added benefit of being able to search all these engines at once, which is great, as on their own, they’re not all the best.