DuckDuckGo now engaging in censorship

If you fight censorship with censorship, then you became what you wanted to avoid. I am not going into the reason or details what happens right now. My concern is that DDG is censoring and that is not acceptable and the reason why I look for alternatives. You may not agree with me, that is fine. But we are just running in a circle now.


There’s a big difference between dipping into politics in service of a broader topic related to DLN and just talking about Russia and Ukraine in detail and getting personal with people about it.

The whole reason why this situation shouldn’t really be called a censorship on DDG’s part is the war and Putin’s politics. That’s why trying to having discussion without it is literally missing the most important factor in all this.

Ideas don’t exist in a vacuum. They must be able to face against reality.
So while “no censorship” is a really nice idea when we are dealing with well meaning people, there are some situations in which it fails. One of such situation is mass fabrication of lies designed to sway public perception. This isn’t an opinion to be censored. People making it, didn’t actually believe it to be true. It’s an attack. Quite literally. Information war have been used in conflicts for a long time. And not treating it as one makes us vulnerable.

One thing that really frustrates me is the fact that none of the answers I received address the most important thing in all of this – the context around the whole situation.

Do people not agree about what I said about Putin? Why not counter it then?

It does not matter what Putin said from my perspective. It does not justify to censor a search engine, no matter what the content is (in context to political expression, opinions and messages).

Perhaps a poor choice of words on my part, but I never intended for this discussion to be about Russia or Putin’s actions.

My intention was to highlight DDG’s pushing their political agenda on the users of their service.

For something to be wrong there needs to be a victim. There’s no victim in “censorship” of an “opinion” that isn’t real.

If you can’t event admit that context of situation can have a meaning in interpreting the facts, then the only thing I can agree with you is that further discussion is meaningless.

Have you thought about what this precedent sets for the next time DDG or any search engine believes something is a misinformation campaign?

Do you know anyone who’s been fooled by the current propaganda? A lot of the call-to-action feels performative and citizens who live in countries that commonly lie to them are highly skeptical of the gov’t however much they may be forced to obey.

Yes. I think right now it’s great that DDG is fighting for freedom, even if it’s not that meaningful of a way. If they ever choose to do something similar in the future I will judge it on its own merit.

Yes. I personally know a person who defended Putin’s attack and I didn’t discuss this with many people, so it’s actually over 10% of (a small) sample size.

I’m actually a Polish, so we’re neighbor to Ukraine and there’s a lot of effort to help Ukraine right now.

There’s also the problem of who gets to decide what’s truth and what’s not. If we’re isolating this strictly to the current conflict, some people have chosen to just ban anyone who’s ethnically Russian even from performing music, for others it’s everyone in Russia no matter how they feel, it can also be banning the entire RT network no matter what they talk about.

There’s decent arguements for the kinds of clean and surgical counter-measures you’re talking about but that’s simply not the reality of how this stuff goes down.

If nothing else… i’m just trying to illustrate that there’s more than one credible perspective and it’s not simply a matter of “slight inconvenience” and “borderline insulting to people”.

I consider myself lucky to be in the company of people who’ll challenge my World views, we don’t always agree and that’s ok. It’s just important to keep an open mind and not assume the worst.

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The thing about all freedoms we have is that we can check and decide and also talk about it. So when a site is acting in what I can see is a good cause, I’m gonna support them. If they act for a bad cause, I will go somewhere else or use my reach to say why the cause is bad.

But let’s turn around the thinking. If there’s a problem with an some authority deciding what’s good and bad that means we have problem with law and moderation, spam protection and so on. If even the situation with war on Ukraine (which I consider to be mostly almost black and white with clear distinction of good and bad) isn’t clear enough, then how can moderate this forum? After all, you’re the one who decides if someone’s broke the rules or not. Person being banned would likely not agree.

And what about law? It’s the system deciding what’s right and wrong that can literally put you in jail. I can point out to many examples of law being problematic, but I’d never abolish it completely, because on the whole it does more than good, so the goal is to make it better instead.

I’m sorry, but I do believe those to be true. The need to either go further into search results or use different search engine to get Russian propaganda is a slight inconvenience. This is especially true when comparing it everything done by Putin and I wasn’t the one who made this comparison. Or do you not agree that putting violent censorship by state and also literal war on the same level as GGD’s policy is a faux-pas?

There’s a very famous Star Wars quote “only a sith deals in absolutes”. Which ironically enough is itself an absolute, but the meaning of a quote is what I like about it.

The world is way too complex for ideas to be always bad or good. No matter how hard you try, there’s nothing (with maybe exception of math) that can be shown to be 100% objectively true. So while I do believe that one should adjust their worldview, so it’s the same for as many situations as possible (in other words avoid being a hypocrite, by picking view that’s fits your goal at the moment) it’s not possible to make it always be right.

That’s why you need to be a little elastic and be able to judge situation. Take context into account. Without it, you’ll get absurd results.

Fair argument, though the 1st ammendment was put in place because of how extremely vulnerable people are to tyrannical moderation of speech (see: my last argument). Even President Lincoln suspended the 1st amendment from non-drafted citizens merely for protesting the war, allowed them to face military tribunals and ignored rulings by his own Supreme Court to release them from jail… and he was the good guy!

I think it’s why it’s so critical to push for a society that engages in speech control as little as possible and the larger a platform is (especially one as generic as Internet search) the more responsibility it has to that impartiality and the more vulnerable the people controlling it become.

DDG is a search platform, not a court. Even if we’re arguing it should be an arbiter of speech it is in no way comparable to people who’s entire life has been the US legal system. Even companies as big as Facebook can’t get it right so I don’t know how DDG can be considered with confidence.

I can’t speak for anyone else but when I observe the way ethnic Russians are being treated, often no matter where they live or what they believe it serves a reminder of just how vulnerable people are to becoming tyrannical, most especially when they believe they’re justified.

I think we both agree that more free speech is generally good, but there is some limit (e.g. if someone was to use only words to intentionally drive someone to cause death, that would be a crime). Just maybe not where this limit is or how beneficial/problematic situation of this topic is.

That’s the thing though. The consequences of what DDG does are far less serious and the platform has much less power and yet of those two we’re fine with courts deciding what’s bad, but not the not even that popular, private platform.

Also I think FB is bad example, because being big is what makes it more difficult to manage. DDG doesn’t need to police it’s users, just find examples of propaganda find pages that share it and make a list.

I don’t see how what DDG does affects this either way.

One more thing to consider – while in practice it doesn’t do that much difference, I do think protection from Russian propaganda is a nice feature to have. I’m choosing to use engine with some restrictions, because I trust it will make my experience better. If we were to decide this is censorship and no search engine should do it, I wouldn’t have this choice. On the other hand people who don’t like it can just use different engine. Being able to rely on moderation you trust is having more freedom, not less.

One more example that came to my mind, because I was watching material about certain frauds making money by exploiting people. In some cases leading even to death and being very much illegal.

You might say, you want to be able to hear what they have to say and decide for yourself and that’s fair. The problem is, people they prey upon don’t have this perspective and it’s not they fault. It is presented as trustworthy by use of many different manipulation tactics. Also people is dire needs often do not have resources or opportunity to validate those claim.

And so once again we have conflict of two different freedoms. On the one hand we have our freedom to access information presented by those frauds, but on the other there’s people’s freedom to not die because of those crook (which is not an overstatement , there are many examples of this happening).

If you acknowledge, freedom from censorship isn’t only freedom people have, then a natural conclusion is that different freedoms will be at odds sometimes and so no freedom is absolute. You might argue when and which freedom is more important and why, but to ignore this conflict is a purely ideological talk, which fails when faced against reality.

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It’s my opion that people don’t get exploited because they’re stupid, but because they’re human. Seeing they’re human, they can learn a thing or two. If you limit the information that people are allowed to acces, you’re not helping them at all, imho.
Education should be at the forefront, together with all the infomation available. That way you teach someone to look out for things and you learn them to think for themselves. That last one is very important, learning to think for yourself.

When something is censored it creates confusion, distrust, curiosity, martyrdom, group think, reduces the capacity for people to disseminate information on their own, ability to coup with disagreement, creates incentives to falsley trigger censorship of opponents, self-censorship anywhere close to a censor-able line and so on… whether the person being censored is aiming to create those results or not. There’s also the precision problem I described above and the natural human tendency to take censorship way too far once they get comfortable doing it.

Lets say DDG doesn’t censor anything; they just talk about it so there’s zero impact to their users and they’ve made no mistakes because they didn’t do anything.

That’s where the real problem is; the setting of the precedent that this is something search engines should be doing when considering all of the above. It’s the same issue with Firefox, the CEO simply recommended that browsers should be an arbiter of truth and that’s enough to warrant protest even if it’s never deployed.

It’s a “win the battle, lose the war” proposition that relies on the “good guys” remaining sparkling clean and accurate despite every historical and current example that they won’t… even if they act in exceptional good faith for recent events.

Adherence to free speech absolutism or something akin to the 1st ammend. is also not an all-or-nothing proposition. You can simultaneously want things like Internet search to be non-interventionist while desiring the platforms you visit to curate.

I can also argue the reverse of all that because there’s merit to the opposing perspectives so I respect your point of view.

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This is an excellent point. LET ME CHOOSE which sites to go to that I trust, not that someone else wants me to trust.

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Unfortunately, practice shows that this approach simply doesn’t work. Or rather, it only works to a certain extend, but is far from enough. There are few reasons why:

For starters for this to work, everyone would need to have access to learning resources and means to learn. We don’t. Schools don’t teach us how to prevent such manipulations, and even if they did, scammers keep coming up with new methods, so we would need to keep being updated and knowledge that is often uncommon. Do you expect my 60yo father to be able to keep up with psychological and technological background when he wouldn’t even know where to find this knowledge to begin with?

Not to mention how time inefficient it would be.

And even when you do have the knowledge, you can still just be unlucky or have a weak moment. That’s what those tactics use.

Also the consequences of those frauds often far exceed what could be considered fair price for paying for a mistake. No matter how much at fault you might think someone is, for not learning to avoid those kind of problems, nobody deserves to die or lose extraordinary amounts of money.

Even bigger problem arrives when your lack of knowledge or arriving at wrong conclusions affects other people. So what if you learn everything you should, when your neighbor doesn’t and infects you with deadly virus?