“5 best Google search alternatives - Fast Company” plus 2 more

“5 best Google search alternatives - Fast Company” plus 2 more

5 best Google search alternatives - Fast Company

Posted: 12 Aug 2019 05:00 AM PDT

You'd be hard-pressed to find the cross section of living people who have searched for something on the web and who haven't ever—never, ever, ever, not even once—used Google. But even if you are among the billions who do, it's nice to know you have alternatives. Maybe you're concerned about your privacy. Maybe you're looking for something pretty specific. Maybe you're just ready to try something new.



Well, the good news is that there are plenty of search engines to try—some very Google-like, and some going out of their way to act very un-Googley. Here are a few to check out the next time you need something.

[Screenshot: DuckDuckGo]

1. Don't quit cold turkey

Newsflash: Google is dominant. Startpage—which bills itself as the world's most private search engine—knows this and doesn't try to out-Google the almighty Google. Instead, it leverages Google's search results but strips out all the tracking, data mining, and personalized results. Your IP address isn't recorded, none of your personal data is collected, and there's a single cookie served up that stores your preferences (but it expires if you don't come back for 90 days).

For private, truly non-Google search, try the venerable DuckDuckGo—which leverages hundreds of sources, including Bing and its own web crawler—or Searx, which can be customized to toggle search results on and off from more than 20 engines (including Google).

[Screenshot: Ecosia]

2. Do some good

The internet has it all . . . including a search engine that plants trees. Environmentally-minded Ecosia uses servers that run on renewable energy, doesn't track users or sell data to third parties, and uses profits from text link ads and commissions from its online store to plant trees around the world. Ecosia says that it takes about 45 searches to finance a new tree, so the more curious among us may someday be responsible for entire forests. Actual search results are powered by Microsoft's Bing technology, and there's a cool little personal counter that lets you know how many Ecosia searches you've made.

[Screenshot: SearchTeam]

3. Search with friends

A self-described "collaborative search engine," SearchTeam works as its name implies. Someone in your group creates a "SearchSpace" based on a specific topic and then invites others in the group to scour the web for sites and media that further the cause. Saving happens in real time, and there are organization and commenting features that make it easy to keep everyone in the loop. And if SearchTeam's results aren't quite extensive enough, you can add links manually, upload documents, and create custom posts to organize additional knowledge.

[Screenshot: Yummly]

4. Let your tummy be your guide

Hungry? Picky? Yummly has you covered. This food-finding search engine catalogs more than two million recipes and lets you get very specific about what you'd like to eat, peppering you with questions and qualifiers that you can answer or skip in order to narrow down the results. My search for the perfect grilled-cheese sandwich—no veggies, five or fewer ingredients, 15 minutes or less, cheddar cheese, grilled (not pressed), and easy enough for a culinary Luddite to create—started at 7,137 recipes and ended up at a very-manageable 20 to choose from. Now I need to figure out how to work my stove.


[Screenshot: Listen Notes]

5. Lots and lots of listenables

Podcasts are everywhere—both figuratively in popularity and literally in that they're scattered around all corners of the web. Confidently billing itself as "the best podcast search engine," Listen Notes does an admirable job at corralling content, boasting more than 50 million episodes to be found across almost three-quarters of a million podcasts. You can create your own listen-later playlists for individual episodes without having to subscribe to entire podcasts, which can then be slung to your player of choice via RSS (kids, look that up—it was the bee's knees back in the day). You can even add contributors so that you and your friends can work on the same lists.

Google now lets developers tag apps to help Play Store discovery - 9to5Google

Posted: 13 Aug 2019 09:44 AM PDT

Beyond search and editorial highlights, one way to look for Android apps in the Play Store is via categories. Google Play is now letting developers add tags to their applications to further tune where a listing appears.

Over the past week, Android developers have been prompted in the Play Console to "Add tags" to describe their apps. The tags feature looks to be an extension of categories that will help Google Play refine placement and discovery while being more straightforward for devs than descriptions in app listings.

Add tags to your app to help Google understand its content and functionality. Tags may affect where your app is displayed on Google Play, and the peer groups you're compared against.

Up to five tags can be applied with devs only able to select from Google's list of over 150. The new "Tags" section will offer some "Suggested tags" that "may be related to your app" for quick entry. The full collection can otherwise be searched.

The editor is available under your app > Store presence > Store listing > Categorization > Manage tags. Guidance provided by Google advises developers to "choose tags that are most obviously relevant to your app."

It should be very clear to a user unfamiliar with the app why the tag is relevant based on the store listing or initial in-app experience.

After the initial selection, Google recommends that tags are edited only after "significant changes to the content or functionality of your app, in which case you should re-evaluate your tags to ensure the five most relevant are selected."

Google Play Store tags are rolling out to developers now, with the feature first appearing last week. It's unclear when this factor will be applied to improve the user-facing Play Store.

Dylan Roussel contributed to this article

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Google Fails Bias Test (Again) On Mass Shootings - National Legal and Policy Center

Posted: 13 Aug 2019 06:49 AM PDT

The horrible dual mass shootings in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio two weeks ago provided another opportunity for Google to demonstrate some balance in delivering evenhanded results for users who searched for news about the incidents.

But the Silicon Valley giant failed again.

According to an audit conducted by the nonpartisan media watchdog group AllSides, the dominant search engine on the Internet dispensed articles about the massacres that favored liberal sources over conservative – and also over more balanced sources – by a vast margin.

AllSides – which exists to provide its readers information from all sources while also identifying the worldview of those sources – evaluated 522 shooting-related articles from Google's "Top Stories" section during the three days that followed the events. The results showed a whopping 70 percent of articles from "Lean Left" or "Left" sources, with only 4 percent produced from "Lean Right" or "Right" publishers. Eighteen percent were from sources that AllSides characterizes as "Center" (but some of those can be viewed as leaning left also).

The study found that almost half the results – 46 percent – were drawn from just three sites on the liberal side of the spectrum: CNN (25 percent), the New York Times (14 percent), and the Washington Post (7 percent).

"Outlets with a Center bias rating were outpaced by Left or Lean Left articles by close to 400 percent," AllSides reported. "Outlets with Lean Right or Right ratings appeared only 19 times over three days, and all 19 were for the most general search query, 'Trump.'"

AllSides considers BBC, NPR, USA Today and Wall Street Journal as "balanced," but most media-savvy conservatives view them as left leaning (although the Journal's opinion page leans right). That tells you which way the "nonpartisan" organization slants, but it also tells you their damning analysis of Google could have been even worse for conservative news organizations. The report found that the "balanced" media outlets as well as "the entirety of the right-leaning media spectrum — got close to no 'Top Stories' exposure for any of the queries searched" about the two shootings.

The results further confirm a longstanding practice by Google, despite claims to the contrary. While the company may not always "manually intervene on any particular search result," as CEO Sundar Pichai testified before Congress in December, its algorithms have clearly been trained to favor the elite liberal legacy media (Whistleblowers have alleged Google does manually intervene as well).

Other studies in the past corroborate AllSides's findings. An extensive analysis in November 2017 by the Computational Journalism Lab at Northwestern University, which reviewed thousands of news links, found that only 20 news organizations' sites were represented in more than half of Google's "Top Stories." The researchers found that 62.4 percent of "Top Stories" results were from left-leaning sites, and 11.3 percent were from right-leaning sites (26.3 percent had no identified political leaning based on another study).

The same study also found that CNN received nearly 11 percent of impressions in "Top Stories," the New York Times 6.5 percent, and the Washington Post 5.6 percent – collectively accounting for 23 percent of the best outcomes a news organization can hope for from Google.

In other findings, during the 2016 campaign research psychologist Robert Epstein confirmed earlier conclusions revealed in a viral YouTube video that showed Google's auto-complete search function (when you start typing and Google recommends various search terms) offered only positive suggestions when beginning a search on "Hillary Clinton," but no negative ones. Google-owned YouTube has now censored that video.

PJ Media conducted a similar Google News search project focused on the term "Trump," and found that 96 percent of the results were from liberal outlets.

Then there were the documents given to the conservative Daily Caller that showed the Google maintains a manually controlled blacklist against conservative websites, which determines how and where their content appears in search results.

Even recently there has been fresh evidence of anti-conservative bias by Google and its employees. PragerU, a video education organization led by conservative talk host Dennis Prager, said its most recent project exposing the "Charlottesville lie" – about whether President Trump actually called neo-Nazis "very fine people" in the 2017 protests – has been restricted by YouTube. PragerU has been in litigation against Google over censorship and discrimination for years now.

Whistleblowers have also exposed the ideological slant behind the scenes at the headquarters in Mountain View, Calif. Last week Breitbart reported a leaked discussion between staffers who celebrated Google's decision not to sponsor the annual Conservative Political Action Conference, which one employee characterized as a "circus platform for hate."

And in a video recorded undercover by Project Veritas that was released in June, a top Google official admitted the company was "training our algorithms" for 2020 to avoid a similar election fate as 2016 – that is, Donald Trump's victory. That sentiment is further confirmed by the fact that Google employees gave $355,693 to Democrat candidates during the first half of 2019, and only donated $5,600 for Trump's reelection, according to Recode.

The AllSides study on the coverage of the massacres criticizes Google's "algorithmic bias" and how it "impacts individual news stories on a daily basis." The search engine's trained prejudice leads to what AllSides calls "filter bubbles," in which readers are "only exposed to news that confirms his or her beliefs."

"It is bad for democracy when multiple viewpoints are hard to find," AllSides concluded. "At its best, news media presents all sides of an issue so that people can decide what they think for themselves. This helps people to appreciate diverse perspectives and those who have different views, creating a more tolerant and well-informed public."

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