DuckDuckGo, a search engine dubbed by many as the “free speech” alternative to Google, has announced that it will be taking steps to combat “Russian Disinformation.” The move was announced by DuckDuckGo founder Gabriel Weinberg in a tweet.
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.
— Gabriel Weinberg (@yegg) March 10, 2022
“Like so many others I am sickened by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the gigantic humanitarian crisis it continues to create,” Weinberg wrote in a tweet. “At DuckDuckGo, we’ve been rolling out search updates that down-rank sites associated with Russian disinformation.” Further down in a Twitter thread, Weinberg said that the company would be “downranking sites associated with disinformation.”
Weinberg did not make it clear what the company considers to be “Russian disinformation.” Several narratives that have come out of Ukrainian media since the Russian invasion have been debunked or called into question, such as the “Ghost of Kyiv” and “Snake Island” stories. Weinberg’s statement did not address the possibility of Ukrainian or Western misinformation and disinformation being disseminated and spread online through DuckDuckGo, rather that they would use news modules and information boxes to “highlight quality information for rapidly unfolding topics”.
DuckDuckGo, which is headquartered about 40 minutes outside Philadelphia in Paoli, PA, has long been marketed as a “privacy” alternative to Google. The search engine has gained widespread popularity among Western political dissidents in recent years, who use it due to its lack of algorithm suppression that is common with Google. DuckDuckGo also markets its commitment to privacy and seeks to guard users from personalized search results based on collected data.
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DuckDuckGo’s move follows a general crackdown of U.S. and European companies against Russian interests. Russian nationals have been barred from air travel to and from both the U.S. and the EU while various Russian exports have been barred across the world. On the tech front, Russian gamers have been barred by Xbox and Sony after requests from the Ukrainian government.