DuckDuckGo searches suppress legally questionable media sites

Users of the privacy-oriented search engine DuckDuckGo were recently unable to search the domains of some well-known pirated media sites. as reported by TorrentFreak on Friday. Gabriel Weinberg, CEO of DuckDuckGo, called it “completely made up”. tweet over the weekend that this was due to an error on the part of the site operator. Weinberg insisted that the company not delete any results. “Anyone can verify this by searching for an outlet and seeing it show up in the results,” Weinberg tweeted.

It appeared to observers that DuckDuckGo had de-indexed searches for copyright-infringing media download sites such as The Pirate Bay and Fmovies, and even a site search for the open-source tool youtube-dl returned blank. TorrentFreak It later updated its report, citing a company spokesman who traced the issue to Bing search data, which DuckDuckGo relies on.

We contacted DuckDuckGo about the issue and received this response from Senior Communications Manager Allison Goodman:

After investigating this, our records show that YouTube-dl and The Pirate Bay were never removed from our search results when you searched for them directly by name or URL, which the vast majority of people do (it’s rare, that people use website operators or query operators in general).

The edge was informed that the new behavior does not target piracy-related websites. “We’re having trouble with ours Website: operator, and not just for these pages,” Goodman wrote. “Some of the other sites routinely change domain names and have patchy availability, so naturally come in and out of the index, but should be available as of now.” The edge was able to observe these changes: a Friday search for “ spider-man” returned zero results (including the lack of the main page), but today’s search at least returns the site – but nothing inside.



The Pirate Bay was completely suppressed this weekend, but now DuckDuckGo is at least showing the domain as a result.
Screenshot: Jay Peters and Umar Shakir

Like Goodman, Weinberg claimed that publishers were used sparingly and downplayed this as a problem:

Likewise, we don’t “clean” YouTube-dl or The Pirate Bay, and both were actually consistently available in our results when you search by name (which most people do). Our website operator (which hardly anyone uses) is having issues that we’re investigating.

Regardless of what is causing the change, this is the second puff of dust for DuckDuckGo about its search results. In March, the company responded to the Russian invasion of Ukraine by saying it would downgrade websites that spread Russian misinformation. Far-right figures who promoted it as an alternative to Google claimed it had abandoned the principles of free speech in favor of censorshipwhile DDG spokesman Kamyl Bazbaz said recode, “It’s not censorship. It’s just search rankings.” DuckDuckGo searches suppress legally questionable media sites

Fry Electronics Team

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