The CEO of DuckDuckGo, Gabriel Weinberg recently you just accused Google of abusing your browser extensions "Chrome" website to promote your products and repress your competitors.
Google is said show misleading notifications to users to trick them into disabling their rival's browser extensions and to discourage them from changing the default search engine in their web browser, Chrome.
For those who are still unaware of DuckDuckGo, you should know that this is a search engine that aims to preserve the privacy of its users and avoid the filter bubble. It was released in 2008 and ranks as a direct competitor to Google's search engine.
Its motto is:
"Google is tracking you, not us."
DuckDuckGo has gained popularity in recent years and in January 2021 it was reported to have surpassed the 100 million query per day mark. For comparison, in 2020, DuckDuckGo published an average of 51,9 million daily searches and 1,6 billion monthly searches. Its business model is based on the display of advertising and affiliation.
While some reports believe that DuckDuckGo is also profiling its users, the search engine does not miss an opportunity to flaunt the alleged antitrust behavior of its biggest rival.
DuckDuckGo CEO Gabriel Weinberg said Google has been implementing "dark patterns" for years to mislead users of competing products.
Google I would use it to trick users into disabling browser extensions offered by DuckDuckGo and to discourage them from changing the default search engine to Chrome. But even so, Weinberg said that in August 2020, Google changed the prompts to more openly urge users not to change Chrome's default search engine.
Vineyard explains that these changes include asking users to respond if they prefer to "go back to Google search." after adding the DuckDuckGo extension and showing a bigger highlighted button when given the option to "go back to google search" or not.
According to the CEO, these changes, while subtle, have had a huge impact. They would have caused a significant drop (10%) in the number of new users.
This is the first time that the company has spoken publicly about the impact of this practice. in your business, especially in the millions of potential revenue lost since Google changed its ads in 2020.
"For search engines like ours that are actively trying to allow consumers to switch providers [or choose an alternative], they make it unreasonably complicated and confuse consumers," Weinberg said of Google.
However, Google spokeswoman Julie Tarallo McAlister has refuted the claims made by DuckDuckGo's CEO.
She said that Chrome users:
"They can directly change their default search settings at any time, but they often complain when they download an extension that unexpectedly changes these settings without their knowledge."
“This issue has been well documented for a long time and that is why we have long had clear disclosure requirements for extensions and show users a notification if an extension tries to change their search settings, as a way to confirm their intention". . Weinberg believes, however, that this hurts competition.
This new development adds a new element to the high-risk antitrust debate and fuels calls for new regulation.
McAlister said the notification appears, "regardless of the search provider the user chooses" and that some other browsers have "similar policies."
For his part, Weinberg said he hoped exposing the tactic would strengthen calls for bipartisan antitrust legislation, currently under consideration on Capitol Hill, to prohibit major platforms from prioritizing their platforms, owning products and harming rivals.
These proposals are just a few of the many bills that target what US lawmakers see as anti-competitive abuse by companies like Google.