ArchivedFebruary 24 2022, 11:09 am

US Right-Wing & Conspiracy Theorists Using DuckDuckGo Search Engine

US media is report­ing that using pri­va­cy-ori­ent­ed search engine Duck­Duck­Go has become an impor­tant theme dur­ing the COVID-19 aca­d­e­m­ic for the US right-wing. Accord­ing to the New York Times report, the praise for the search engine shows how right-wing Amer­i­cans and con­spir­a­cy the­o­rists are chang­ing their online activ­i­ty away from major high-tech com­pa­nies like Google, which have more sig­nif­i­cant moderation:

On an episode of Joe Rogan’s pop­u­lar pod­cast last year, he turned to a top­ic that has gripped right-wing com­mu­ni­ties and oth­er Amer­i­cans who feel skep­ti­cal about the pan­dem­ic: search engines. “If I want­ed to find spe­cif­ic cas­es about peo­ple who died from vac­cine-relat­ed injuries, I had to go to Duck­Duck­Go,” Mr. Rogan said, refer­ring to the small pri­va­cy-focused search engine. “I wasn’t find­ing them on Google.” Praise for Duck­Duck­Go has become a pop­u­lar refrain dur­ing the pan­dem­ic among right-wing social media influ­encers and con­spir­a­cy the­o­rists who ques­tion Covid-19 vac­cines and push dis­cred­it­ed coro­n­avirus treat­ments. Some have post­ed screen­shots show­ing that Duck­Duck­Go appears to sur­face more links favor­able to their views than Google does. In addi­tion to Mr. Rogan, who has recent­ly been at the cen­ter of an out­cry about mis­in­for­ma­tion on his pod­cast, the search engine has received ring­ing endorse­ments from some of the world’s most-down­loaded con­ser­v­a­tive pod­cast­ers, includ­ing Ben Shapiro and Dan Bongi­no. “Google is active­ly sup­press­ing search results that don’t acqui­esce to tra­di­tion­al view­points of the left,” Mr. Shapiro claimed last March. “I rec­om­mend you install Duck­Duck­Go on your com­put­er, rather than Google, to com­bat all this.” The endorse­ments under­score how right-wing Amer­i­cans and con­spir­a­cy the­o­rists are shift­ing their online activ­i­ty in response to greater mod­er­a­tion from tech giants like Google. They have increas­ing­ly embraced fledg­ling and some­times fringe plat­forms like the chat app Telegram, the video stream­er Rum­ble and even search engines like Duck­Duck­Go, seek­ing con­di­tions that seem more favor­able to their con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries and falsehoods.

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In Octo­ber 2021, the Glob­al Influ­ence Oper­a­tions Report (GIOR) report­ed how Chi­na was exploit­ing search engines to push con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries about the ori­gins of Covid-19.


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