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Search engine bugging you? There are alternatives

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Friday, Oct. 25, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
 

Just recently, Google updated its terms of use and privacy policy. The goal was to allow Google to use your name and public photo in “Shared Endorsements.” In plain English, it wants to use you in ads.

So, if you like or “+1” something on Google+, for example, Google can show your friends that you recommend it if it pops up their searches. I'm sure Google can expand that in the future to the channels you subscribe to on YouTube or music and apps you buy in Google Play.

To Google's credit, you can opt out — if you know where to look. Head over to the Shared Endorsements page, sign in with your Google account and make sure the option at the bottom is not checked.

Still, it's a reminder where Google's focus is. It's keeping track of what you do so it can use that information in advertising. And don't forget that your information is one subpoena away from ending up in a government database.

But it's not like there's a better alternative for search, right? Bing and Yahoo do the same thing.

That's true, but those aren't the only alternative search sites around. Here are some that do the job and take your privacy seriously.

Take a look at DuckDuckGo. Though it's similar to Google, it doesn't collect any information about you when you search.

It matches Google Search in features and performance with a similar simple layout. Its “Goodies” features offer geographic search, calculators and more. You could literally spend hours checking out DuckDuckGo's cool features.

Maybe there's just one feature about Google's search you really can't live without, though. In most cases, you can find search sites tailored to that feature.

Wolfram Alpha, for example, runs circles around Google when it comes to research and calculations. Just type in a question and it can usually figure out what you mean. You can even upload images to get more information about them.

For quick answers, Blekko is usually easier to use than Google. Instead of returning advertisers and other iffy results first, it sends you links that actually answer your question.

The links are even broken down into categories, such as Top Results, Shopping and Latest. You can expand a category to see more of just what you want.

Blekko is more private than Google in normal mode. However, I recommend you use its “SuperPrivacy” mode for maximum privacy. This blocks ads and takes you to secure, encrypted sites by default. You can turn it on by clicking “Prefs” in the right corner of the site.

If you like how quickly Blekko gives results, you can try IxQuick, too. It encrypts your search for privacy while giving you pre-approved results from other top search sites for a faster answer. You can rate results to help other searchers find what they're looking for faster, too.

Are you concerned about search results showing up with inappropriate content? It happens quite a bit, and — thanks to Murphy's Law — usually when a child is present. Yippy detects adult content and blocks it automatically. That makes it great for the family computer.

Google is a popular search provider on tablets and smartphones, but it isn't the only option. Instead, try Mazoom on smartphones and Izik on tablets.

Email Kim Komando at techcomments@usatoday.com.

 

 
 


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