Since several people have asked this question, and I expect more people will, I'll highlight the most important reasons for changing the default search engine to DuckDuckGo in Pale Moon 24.4 and later:
- Unbiased search results: With the previous default search provider (Google), the results of your search would be biased based on who you are: your geographical location, your search history (yes, Google keeps a history of everything you ever searched for), ads you have clicked on and tracked sites you have visited. Although it's marketed as "providing you with more relevant results" I think this kind of bias is bad. It will show you more of the same stuff you already like and know and have searched for before. If you use a search engine, how often do you want to look up the same thing or want to be given the same kind of results? It would be the bane for any actual research you are doing.
- No profiling: As said above, Google keeps a history of your search results. Don't believe me? go have a look yourself here: https://history.google.com/history/
This kind of recorded history helps Google with building user profiles, which in turn can be used commercially. Based on your past results you may even be shown completely different providers for goods and services (in different price brackets) because you fall in a certain group of people, for example. Not to mention that aggregated data from user searches can also be sold to interested parties. And I think most people didn't even know this kind of (very personal!) data was being collected.
- Privacy-aware search provider: DuckDuckGo is privacy-aware. They make efforts to not track you and not store any sort of data (well they do, briefly, for normal search engine operations, but it's being immediately thrown away when no longer needed). While there are other, similar search providers with the same privacy goals, I've chosen (a while back already) to include DuckDuckGo in Pale Moon for providing a current-day, complete package with relevant results based on proven technology.
- You are in control: Through the DuckDuckGo settings page, you can fine-tune search results for your (or a specifically desired!) region if you so wish, or keep searching globally. This is especially important if your public IP doesn't necessarily reflect your actual location. The provider even makes it possible to do it by passing parameters in the URL so if you absolutely hate browser cookies to store your personal preferences, you don't have to.
- Technical issues with Google: Google search results pages have started giving issues for Pale Moon users (when they would use the "back" button in their browser, for example, instead of the navigation controls on the page) making it an annoyance to use. It would make sense therefore to make a different provider the default.
- No need to further support Mozilla: The Mozilla Corporation, through their contract with Google as the search provider, benefits financially from every Google search result performed from a Firefox browser (where do you think the ad revenue share goes to when you search from the search box or about:home in Firefox...?) Apart from a very large revenue stream that they already have (officially non-profit, but that doesn't mean they don't make any money...) and IMO not needing any more to add to that through a third-party browser, they have displayed a lot of undesired behavior in their recent developments of Firefox (e.g. removal of useful features) and plans for the future (e.g. making the browser adware and in turn displaying greed of the first order), and I no longer want to have them benefit (financially) from my browser out-of-the-box through searches, out of principle.
- In-result detailed information: DuckDuckGo has a very useful feature that displays essential information about your search results in a box at the top, providing you often with a basic answer to your query without even having to visit the sites. I think this is an absolutely invaluable feature of the provider, which in its own right already keeps you safer (especially when researching dodgy material) and more private.
More reading material:
- http://dontbubble.us - an illustrated guide of the "search bubble" issues and examples (by DDG)
- Wikipedia's article on the problems with profiling
- Your search history and other user data can be requested (and very often is supplied) when you use Google. See this page of the transparency report and the numbers per country in the first half of last year.
- A little insight in the $300 million+/year that Mozilla makes as an Open Source software provider (and how income has grown more than expenses...) http://www.eweek.com/enterprise-apps/mo ... ology.html