If you’ve ever wondered how Google makes all their money and why they give away so many services for free, you might be surprised at the answers.
Google is one of the most profitable companies in the world – with yearly revenues of about $70 billion (that’s billion with a “B”) and very healthy profits of almost $20 billion (again with a “B”).
By far, their main source of income is selling search and display advertising. When you use Google’s search engine, you’ll usually find paid ads showing up alongside the search results. These ads are paid for by companies that bid on the terms you searched for (called “keywords”).
In addition to ads showing up in their search results, Google also sells ads on millions of websites. These are called display ads, and they are also targeted to the specific topics you are interested in. All these website owners have entered into an agreement with Google to sell ad space on their sites in exchange for Big G splitting the money they collect when you click on one of these ads.
All these search and display ads may only cost advertisers pennies each time someone clicks on them, but do the math on the billions of searches (currently estimated at 3.5 billion) per day and billions of website ad clicks, and you can see how quickly the profits pile up.
The thing is, in order to get advertisers to spend all this money, Google has to target their advertising very specifically to their audience. That means (at a minimum) they need to know what you’re searching for and what you’re interested in.
But, their voracious appetite for information doesn’t stop there. Google wants to know EVERYTHING about you, and they are relentless in their efforts to uncover the secrets of your life.
Have you ever visited a website and then seen ads for that website pop up on other places around the internet? That’s called retargeting, and Google accomplishes it by placing a little piece of tracking software on your computer (called a “cookie”) that tells them what websites you’re visiting so they can sell that information to the highest bidder and show you targeted ads.
And, to help them get even more of your information, Google has gotten very clever in enticing all of us to share our most personal information in exchange for their “free” services.
Take Gmail as an example. Most of us have a Gmail account and are quite comfortable emailing our friends and family the most intimate details of our life. However, take at look a Google’s terms of service for Gmail and you’ll be shocked at the permissions you’ve given them to scan your emails for information and to use that to sell to their advertisers.
We are all gladly giving up little pieces of valuable personal data in exchange for, what we believe, are the harmless intentions of Google.
Well, I’ve decided to stop supporting those that are stealing my data.
For starters, I’ve kicked the Gmail habit and am now using a search engine called “DuckDuckGo.com.” If you’ve never heard of DuckDuckGo, you’re not alone, but let me share why I think you should start using them as your search engine.
From their Wikipedia page:
DuckDuckGo is an Internet search engine that emphasizes protecting searchers’ privacy and avoiding the filter bubble of personalized search results. DuckDuckGo distinguishes itself from other search engines by not profiling its users and by deliberately showing all users the same search results for a given search term. DuckDuckGo emphasizes getting information from the best sources rather than the most sources, generating its search results from key crowdsourced sites such as Wikipedia and from partnerships with other search engines like Yandex, Yahoo!, Bing, and Yummly.
DuckDuckGo is committed to its user’s privacy. From their website:
And, even though Google is still the undeniable monster of the search world, DuckDuckGo is growing quickly – with an estimated 9 billion searches per day (as of January 2016).
So, if you’re concerned (like me) about the ever-growing infringing of our privacy, by governments and big business, I invite you to join me in my efforts to take back a little piece of that privacy!
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