According to TorrentFreak on Friday, users of the privacy-focused search engine DuckDuckGo have suddenly been unable to site search the domains of certain well-known pirated media sites. It was “totally made up,” according to DuckDuckGo CEO Gabriel Weinberg, who tweeted over the weekend that it was the product of a site operator error.
Weinberg claimed that no results are being purged from the organization. Weinberg tweeted, “Anyone can verify this by looking for an outlet and seeing it pop up in results.”
Searches for copyright-flouting media download sites like The Pirate Bay and Fmovies appeared to be de-indexed, and even a site search for the open-source application youtube-dl came up empty, according to onlookers. TorrentFreak then revised their article, citing a business official who blamed the problem on DuckDuckGo’s reliance on Bing search data.
The new conduct, according to the media, is not directed at piracy-related websites. “We’re experiencing problems with our site: operator, and it’s not just these sites,” Goodman wrote. “Some of the other sites change domain names on a regular basis and have inconsistent availability, so they naturally move in and out of the index, but they should be available right now.” The Verge was able to notice the changes: a search for “site:thepiratebay.org spider-man” on Friday yielded no results (including the disappearance of the main site), whereas today’s search yields the thepiratebay.org domain — but nothing within.
Whatever the reason for the shift, this is DuckDuckGo’s second recent kerfuffle over its search results. In March, the business said that it will de-rank sites that disseminate Russian propaganda in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Right-wing individuals who touted it as a Google alternative said it had abandoned free speech ideals in favor of control, while DDG spokeswoman Kamyl Bazbaz told Recode, “This isn’t censorship.” It’s merely a matter of search engine rankings.”