DuckDuckGo Is Shedding Its Black Sheep Status Thanks to Its Dedication to Privacy

The search engine will see record traffic in 2018

DuckDuckGo is benefiting from increased consumer concern about privacy. DuckDuckGo
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DuckDuckGo, the “internet privacy company” that distinguishes itself among internet companies by not tracking users, is seeing significant growth in traffic thanks to increased consumer concern about privacy.

The privacy-focused search engine, which says it empowers users to take control of their personal information online, ranks 13th on Comscore’s list of the 20 most popular search engines in October 2018.

Clearly, small potatoes compared to Google, which—no surprises here—is the most-visited search engine in the U.S. Per Comscore, Google had 200,114,000 visitors in October 2018, which is nearly 60 times DuckDuckGo’s audience of 3,484,000 in the same period. (Even Bing had 147,310,000 visitors.) DuckDuckGo will finish 2018 with record traffic. It has already processed more than 8.1 billion queries and there’s still a month to go. That’s up from 5.9 billion in 2017 and 4.1 billion in 2016. (For sake of comparison, reports put Google at about 3.5 billion queries per day.)

That’s in part because the 2018 news cycle has been full of stories about breaches and hacks and more consumers are starting to realize nothing is really free—Google and Facebook included.

DuckDuckGo was founded as an alternative to the former in February 2008. (On its website, it says, “The Internet shouldn’t feel so creepy and getting the privacy you want online should be as simple as closing the blinds.”)

“Our increasing traffic and exposure reflects the increasing public awareness and growing concern that personal data is not being treated properly online and our fundamental right to privacy is not being properly respected by many companies,” a rep said in an email. “Put simply, people have had enough and are now doing something about it.”

In the wake of Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica scandal earlier this year, DuckDuckGo conducted a study that found more than 85 percent of respondents were aware of the incident and 37 percent said they were either somewhat or much more likely to delete their accounts as a result. What’s more, DuckDuckGo found more than 64 percent of respondents were more concerned for their online privacy.

“We expect continued shifts in attitudes and behaviors about Facebook and other services as coverage continues to scrutinize poor privacy practices and the dialogue turns to what we can do about them,” DuckDuckGo said in the study.

@lisalacy Lisa Lacy is a senior writer at Adweek, where she focuses on retail and the growing reach of Amazon.