‘DuckDuck NO’! Conservatives dump search engine after it vows to censor ‘Russian disinformation’ sites

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Search engine DuckDuckGo, which has previously been attractive to conservatives not only for privacy but because it stood for freedom of information compared to Google and its proxies, has now committed digital suicide by down-ranking so-called Russian disinformation sites, in effect, censoring them.

The site was founded in 2008 and boasts on its website, “Tired of being tracked online? We can help. We don’t store your personal info. We don’t follow you around with ads. We don’t track you. Ever.”

It initially also stood for unmanipulated and unbiased search results which is evidently no longer the case as the company follows in the censoring footsteps of Facebook and Twitter as well as Google.

CEO Gabriel Weinberg announced on Thursday that his company would change its algorithm, tweeting, “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.”

“In addition to down-ranking sites associated with disinformation, we also often place news modules and information boxes at the top of DuckDuckGo search results (where they are seen and clicked the most) to highlight quality information for rapidly unfolding topics,” he added.

Weinberg went out of his way to claim that privacy would still be tantamount at DuckDuckGo, blindly missing the point of anti-censorship.

“DuckDuckGo’s mission is to make simple privacy protection accessible to all. Privacy is a human right and transcends politics, which is why about 100 million people around the world use DuckDuckGo. (We don’t have an exact count since we don’t track people.),” he also tweeted, not seeming to fathom that the only way that a site can realistically be determined to be a “Russian disinformation” site is if you track it.

Conservatives immediately took note and were infuriated by the proclaimed censorship which goes directly against the First Amendment no matter what your view on Russia is. Many are dumping the search engine over it.

“DuckDuckGo shows why you can’t back a ‘non-ideological’ platform. It will always – always! – turn left wing,” commented conservative pundit Mike Cernovich.

“[I] would bet good money there was some intense behind-the-scenes pressure that led to this decision which strongly harms duckduckgo’s competitive advantage,” Ukrainian-American Michael Malice wrote.

[email protected], contrary to its implicit promises to the contrary, is now in the censorship business. Are there any search engines that respect users?” Tom Fitton, the president of Judicial Watch, asked.

Weinberg went on the defensive and started responding to negative comments personally on Twitter.

“Search engines by definition try to put more relevant content higher and less relevant content lower — that’s not censorship, it’s search ranking relevancy,” he tweeted, attempting to stop the company’s hemorrhaging of users and to justify censorship.

That lame set of responses did not seem to get any traction.

On March 9, Weinberg also tweeted an article from Protocol reporting on DuckDuckGo’s move to suspend its relationship with Russian search engine Yandex.

“The primary utility of a search engine is to provide access to accurate information,” a DuckDuckGo spokesperson told Mashable.

“Disinformation sites that deliberately put out false information to intentionally mislead people directly cut against that utility. Current examples are Russian state-sponsored media sites like RT and Sputnik. It’s also important to note that down-ranking is different from censorship. We are simply using the fact that these sites are engaging in active disinformation campaigns as a ranking signal that the content they produce is of lower quality, just like there are signals for spammy sites and other lower-quality content. In addition to this approach, for newsworthy topics we’re also continuing to highlight reputable news coverage and reliable ‘instant answers’ at the top of our search results where they are seen and clicked the most. We’re also in the process of thinking about other types of interventions,” the statement concluded.

Conservatives piled on, tearing DuckDuckGo to shreds over the move:

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