In recent years, as Republicans have increasingly claimed, without much merit, that Google is censoring conservatives, right-wingers have flocked instead to DuckDuckGo, a small alternative search engine that, while it doesn't cater directly to conservatives, has long championed user privacy.
However, according to a New York Times report on Friday, many on the right are suddenly calling for a boycott of DuckDuckGo, because its CEO, Gabriel Weinberg, said the site would lower the search ranking of sources of disinformation — most chiefly Russian state propaganda about the invasion of Ukraine.
In addition to down-ranking sites associated with disinformation, we also often place news modules and information boxes at the top of DuckDuckGo search results (where they are seen and clicked the most) to highlight quality information for rapidly unfolding topics.— Gabriel Weinberg (@Gabriel Weinberg) 1646872254
"DuckDuckGo has little control over its search results because they are provided by Microsoft’s Bing, which announced that it would follow the European Union’s order to restrict access to the Russian state news agencies RT and Sputnik," reported Stuart Thompson. "But the criticism from the far right was directed at DuckDuckGo. The conservative website Breitbart said DuckDuckGo was 'adopting the censorship policies' of Big Tech. In social media channels devoted to conspiracy theories, users vowed to switch to alternatives like the Russian search engine Yandex. The hashtag #DuckDuckGone trended across Twitter in the United States by Friday. And on YouTube, users criticized the company for silencing voices."
DuckDuckGo communications VP Kamyl Bazbaz emphasized that websites found to be engaged in an "active disinformation campaign" would not actually be banned: “This isn’t censorship, it’s just search rankings.”