DuckDuckGo’s latest move doesn’t sit well with everyone. A few days ago, the CEO and founder of the project Gabriel Weinberg announced that his search engine would now bring up less content related to Russian disinformation. In addition, inserts will be added and highlighted to highlight the ” quality information on rapidly changing topics. This decision has sparked a debate on the role of search engines in the neutrality of information sharing.
Like so many others I am sickened by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the gigantic humanitarian crisis it continues to create. #StandWithUkraine️
At DuckDuckGo, we’ve been rolling out search updates that down-rank sites associated with Russian disinformation.
—Gabriel Weinberg (@yegg) March 10, 2022
This choice of DuckDuckGo is not really a surprise: Google, Facebook and Bing recently explained that they are strengthening their fight against Russian disinformation with similar methods. The list of sites affected by this new decision has not been specified. In the past, DuckDuckGo has several times been accused of moderating the content it uploads much less than its direct competitors.
Last year, controversial podcaster Joe Rogan explained that he had to use DuckDuckGo if he wanted to ” find specific cases of people who died of vaccine-related injuries “. The New York Times observed that DuckDuckGo did indeed pull up sites that were less trustworthy than Google based on around 20 conspiratorial searches. If the Mountain View firm goes back to certain sites considered to be carrying out disinformation, it is something less common while the unreliable results appear less high. As a reminder, DuckDuckGo’s algorithms are based on those of Bing, which is managed by Microsoft.
As a result, many conspiracy theorists encouraged people to go through this much more confidential search engine to get information. After Gabriel Weinberg’s announcement, several people called for a boycott of DuckDuckGo, seeing this action as a censorship maneuver.
In the face of criticism published here and there, a spokesperson defended himself in a press release sent to Mashable. He is pointing out that ” the main purpose of a search engine is to provide access to accurate information “. Since the sharing of misinformation is considered inferior content (in the same way as spam), the company considers it logical to raise it less.
Earlier this month, DuckDuckGo paused its partnership with Yandex, the leading Russian search engine that provided traditional (non-news related) results in some countries. In the meantime, DuckDuckGo continues to do well. Gabriel Weinberg recalls that around 100 million people use DuckDuckGo worldwide.