For years, the internet has been dominated by the all-seeing Google. Google has been so successful in running and protecting its brand that we culturally understand that for ‘Google’ something is to search the Internet, despite the existence of alternative search engines.
Google has a huge advantage over all other search engines. More … than 88% of all web searches are done through Google while the second largest web browser, Bing, doesn’t claim quite 6% of all web searches. While alternative search services have been around for years (such as DuckDuckGo, Ask, and Startpage), there are only two indexes in English: Google’s and Bing’s. Most of the familiar research “alternatives” come from these two sets of data.
Alternative search engines are therefore not all that alternative. Really, the only benefit to using an alternative search engine is privacy. But when it comes to search results, you’ll end up with a very similar search no matter which engine you choose.
Now a new search engine has appeared offering a revolutionary alternative.
Before introducing you to this promising competitor, it is important to understand why Google’s monopoly is so important, and why the introduction of a real alternative search engine is essential for the free exchange of ideas.
Why is Google’s monopoly a problem?
” What’s the problem ? Some might ask. “Google is reaping the rewards of a great product.”
It turns out that Google’s monopoly is very important because it affects the free exchange of ideas in the public square and our electoral process.
“The control that our search engines have over us is very underhanded,” says Nathan Jacobson, developer and web designer at the Discovery Institute. ” This is not obvious. When you go to the New York Times, you know the editors picked a certain set of topics to cover, articles to share, they picked some writers to employ, so it’s kind of understood that you’re getting an intentional experience. The information transmitted to you is not all information. It is a carefully selected subset of information.
In other words, the common assumption is that Google is a neutral information library when in reality it is just as much a curator as it is. the New York Times.
“It’s not even that deliberately mean or duplicitous,” explains Jacobson, “it’s just that if you come from a certain point of view you’re going to rate some news sources as more credible and authoritative and favor those in your search results. “
If you think about the traditional idea of the public square, Google acts as a sort of moderator, allowing some voices to speak louder and longer than others. Unfortunately, due to the biased nature of human beings, this leads to biased results in our research results.
Take, for example, the research conducted by psychologist Robert Epstein:
Research psychologist Robert Epstein began studying what he called the “search engine manipulation effect” in 2014. It involved the placement of news articles and other links returned to users in a query. Google search. Because Google search had become so efficient (the algorithms again) and the site itself so widely used, Google customers expected that the higher an item appeared in the search results list, the more this element had to be relevant and reliable. Epstein discovered as early as 2014 that he could alter the choice of indecisive voters in an election by perhaps more than 12% simply by manipulating the order of search results – an oscillation that could determine a close competition.
Josh Hawley, The Tyranny of Big Tech, page 100
Epstein conducted extensive research into these Google search queries in the 2016 presidential election. “What he found was a pronounced Google search bias in favor of Democratic presidential candidate Hilary Clinton.” He estimated that Google’s algorithm “probably pushed 2.6 million voters undecided about Hilary Clinton.
Moreover, such curation is a threat to the exchange of competing ideas. Overwhelmingly, Google users only ever see the first set of carefully weighted search results. The vast majority of results are left in the dark.
Jacobson compares it to the traditional public forum. “Grant that anyone can speak.” But what if someone controls who speaks where and at what time? ” he asks. “What if the privileged voices were given in the city center, a soapbox and a microphone at noon while the unwanted people are programmed in the wee hours in an alley where the police regularly tell them to be silent?”
The effect is a monopoly on the conversation, although everyone’s freedom to speak into a vacuum is preserved. “The ability to control what people hear is almost as great as the power to control what they say,” says Jacobson. “And so much power in the hands of a business should give anyone who cares about the concentration of power pause.”
One solution to a monopoly like Google is the introduction of competition in the field.
Enter a new competing search engine, Courageous research. Unlike other alternative search engines which pull from the same English indexes created by Google and Bing, Brave Search operates from its own index, only the third widely available and based in English.
(The other large-scale indices are Chinese Baidu and Russian Yandex, the latter making a foray into the English-speaking world at yandex.com.)
Jacobson explains that, relying on his acquisition of Tailcat, Brave Search “anonymously exploits users’ computers to crawl the Web and contribute to its index.” Maintaining a web index is a “big deal” given the amount of new content posted every twenty-four hours.
Brave Search is not yet a fully mature product, but the beta was released for public use this summer at search.brave.com.
Not only does it offer an alternative to Google’s search algorithms, but it also prioritizes the privacy of its users:
Out of the box, the Brave browser blocks trackers and third-party cookies that monitor your activity as you travel the web. But the browser also lets you control what you do and don’t want to be blocked, from ads and cookies to Facebook and Google login buttons.
Clifford Colby and Rae Hodge, “This rival to Google Chrome is the browser to use if you are concerned about online privacy. What you need to know ”at CNET
Google remains dominant for the moment. Brave Search is barely as well-known as Google and will need to do some work in the public awareness arena. In addition, Google remains the best engine to use for niche searches. Nevertheless, Brave Search is already a solid alternative and should get stronger.
Another potential alternative to Google’s monopoly would be to cede control of the algorithm to the people. Wacky? Imagine a technology that would allow you to weight your own research instead of relying on Google’s almighty algorithm. AT this year’s COSM event in Bellevue, Washington, you will have the opportunity to hear a speaker who will present this same technology.
Update: In addition to the indexes of Google and Bing, a search engine little known in the UK by the name of mojeek.com also built its own index. Although far from exhaustive, it exceeded 4 billion pages in 2021.