What happens when a search engine stops tracking its users and stops showing ads? [comic]

In their attempt to provide more relevant search results, and to make money, (most) search engines track user activity, serve ads, and integrate social media within the results. All this in the name of growth, prosperity, and better search. Google does it. Bing does it. Yahoo does it. [Insert search engine name] probably does it, too. What would happen if they didn’t?

What would happen if, say, Yahoo stopped showing ads, stopped tracking user activity, and stopped integrating social media and instead started charging for the use of Yahoo’s search engine? Let’s find out:

Sadly enough, if Yahoo had better search algorithms, the above comic could have been true. Would you pay for using a tracking, advertisement, and social media free search engine? If it was Google, and the price was right, I might. Until then, I have AdBlock Plus and Ghostery.

[via Joy of Tech]

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11 comments

  1. Tizwoz

    What about Ixquick.com and their sister, Startpage.com? They don’t store your IP and claim to be the most private search engines out there. Startpage sends your search criteria to Google, having removed your info before sending, so you get a similar result to full Google. It would seem this is so because restarting Firefox with your search page still open loses the results, unlike Google per se. Perhaps Ashraf (thanks for all your hard work) might check them out and report?

  2. Bull

    @Horrabin: Same here, in that I can’t tell if DuckDuckGo is tracking me or not wouldnt know how to find that out or check it. The searches aren’t that bad. I have been using it since i posted about it and th searches are like what you say. I dont get BS clutter and get right to what I’m looking for.

    So far so good, guess I’ll stick with it for a while and see how things go.

  3. Horrabin

    I can’t comment on whether DuckDuckGo is tracking me, but I’ve been using it awhile for serious searches when I want to find out something without 3 pages of BS YouTube results showing up before I see something relevant. My favorite used to be Clusty —> Yippee because searches formatted like Windows Explorer, but the Firefox toolbar was discontinued. I still have it in the search drop down options though. Between the two, I can find nearly anything I need to. Google has become too much like a “social surfing” site for my taste these days. Way too much junk amidst the results.

  4. mukhi

    @Ashraf:
    question is even though you pay, how can you be assured that they are not still DOING it? i have seen that most companies claim that they don’t sell your info but they actually do; otherwise, i would never receive spam calls, emails, and junk papers in my mail.

  5. Ashraf
    Author/Mr. Boss

    @Gourav: Even if Google asked for $0.01 a day? Or, alternatively put, $3.65 a year? I realize that may be a large sum in some developing nations, but for someone living in the USA I’d gladly put that down in return for Google’s assurance that it is not tracking my surfing habits, regardless of what I am surfing for.

  6. Gourav

    I wouldn’t pay. If something is available for free and it is of good quality, why pay for an alternative. So what if “Google’s server” knows a lot about me. I trust them to keep my data safe and private. I’m not doing something illegal by searching for the best smartphone in my budget and not that I’m the only one doing that. So why bother.