In regard to data privacy, it has been an interesting start to the year. WhatsApp’s proposed new data sharing policy with its parent company Facebook sparked outrage among privacy activists and appears to have prompted a mass-migration to Signal, Telegram and other privacy-focused messaging apps.
The furore of this decision sparked such a negative reaction that WhatsApp has delayed the changes till later on in the year. The messaging platform was also forced to clarify aspects of its new policies to users.
The subsequent migration to Signal has led to technical difficulties at the firm. Over the weekend, users were locked out of the platform for the best part of 24-hours due to a number of bugs.
While many have been left frustrated by these issues, the fact remains that apps such as Signal do provide a greater degree of privacy and control for users.
These changing consumer trends are not restricted to messaging platforms, either. Last week (Monday 11th January), search engine provider DuckDuckGo announced it hit a significant milestone when it surpassed more than 100 million searches in one day; an all-time record for the company.
Launched in 2008, DuckDuckGo has flown under the radar for most of its life but has consistently increased search numbers year-on-year. In particular though, the past three years have seen a marked rise in usage.
In 2018, DIGIT explored the search engine’s ongoing rise in popularity as it exceeded 30 million daily searches. That initial surge came hot on the heels of the Cambridge Analytica scandal; an incident which alerted millions of unknowing web and social media users to the perils of the digital world.
Two years on, DuckDuckGo has ridden the seemingly relentless wave of privacy awareness and continues to rack up impressive numbers.
On mobile, the DuckDuckGo app has accrued more than four million users since its launch and is available on both Android and iOS devices. Privacy-conscious Chrome users can also draw upon a DuckDuckGo extension and avoid any pesky data gathering.
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DuckDuckGo is a real modern success story and a strong indicator of the changing perception surrounding online privacy. The search engine does not scrape user data and provides consistent search results for every user. These features make it the ideal platform for privacy-conscious web users.
Despite its growing popularity, however, there is still a long way to go until DuckDuckGo can hope to compete with industry heavyweights such as Google, Yahoo or Bing.
Google, for example, processes over 3.5 billion searches per day, according to statistics from December 2020. For context, this equates to around 40,000 search queries every second and 1.2 trillion searches per year.