DuckDuckGo

Image: DuckDuckGo

Privacy-focused search engine DuckDuckGo reached a major milestone in its 12-year-old history this week when it recorded on Monday its first-ever day with more than 100 million user search queries.

The achievement comes after a period of sustained growth the company has been seeing for the past two years, and especially since August 2020, when the search engine began seeing more than 2 billion search queries a month on a regular basis.

DuckDuckGo’s popularity comes after the search engine has expanded beyond its own site and now currently offers mobile apps for Android and iOS, but also a dedicated Chrome extension.

More than 4 million users installed these apps and extension, the company said in a tweet in September 2020.

But the search engine’s rising popularity is also due to its stated goal of not collecting user data and providing the same search results to all users.

As it highlighted last year, this lack of granular data sometimes makes it hard for the company to even estimate the size of its own userbase.

But this dedication to privacy has also helped the company gain a following among the privacy-conscious crowd. DuckDuckGo has been selected as the default search engine in the Tor Browser and is often the default search engine in the private browsing modes of several other browsers.

Historic week for privacy apps

DuckDuckGo’s historical milestone comes in a week when both Signal and Telegram, two other privacy-centric apps, also announced major periods of growth.

Telegram announced on Monday that it reached 500 million registered users, while Signal’s servers went down on Friday after seeing “millions upon millions of new users” in a sudden influx the company said exceeded even its most optimistic projections.

Both spikes in new users for Signal and Telegram are a direct result of a major public relations snafu at Facebook after the company announced last week it would be blocking access to WhatsApp accounts unless users agreed to a new privacy policy that granted Facebook access to more WhatsApp user data.

Yesterday, on Friday, Facebook delayed the new privacy policy by three months, but by that point, the damage had been done, and hundreds of millions of users were reminded of their right to privacy, flocking to Signal and Telegram — but it wouldn’t be a stretch to think that many users were reminded to use DuckDuckGo instead of Google either.

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