Washington Post: Google’s Browser-Retention Efforts Ruffle Feathers at DuckDuckGo

search engine
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DuckDuckGo's CEO claims that Google's browser-retention tactics stifle competition.

Gabriel Weinberg, the CEO of Paoli-based DuckDuckGo, a privacy-minded search engine, alleges that Google is manipulating browser extensions to favor its products and stifle competitors, writes Cristiano Lima for The Washington Post.

According to Weinberg, Google is deploying manipulative design features to trick users into casting aside rival technology.

He said Google has been using misleading notifications for years to get web searchers to disable its rival browser extensions. He also claims it discourages them from changing the default search engines on Chrome, Google’s web browser.

Weinberg alleges that in August 2020, the technology behemoth tweaked the prompts to be even more blatant about their purpose.

Change-of-browser inhibitors included requiring users to answer if they would “change back to Google search” after adding the DuckDuckGo extension. A highlighted button also provided a rather obvious option to restore Google’s browser.

These actions have had a significant impact on DuckDuckGo, which recorded a 10 percent drop in retained new users on Chrome.

“For search engines like us that are trying to actively allow consumers to switch, (or) choose an alternative, they’re making it unreasonably complicated to do so and confusing consumers,” Weinberg said.

Read more about DuckDuckGo and Google in The Washington Post.