Brave has announced an update for its privacy-centric search engine that it believes will give users a way to overcome biases in results.
To mark the full public release of Brave Search, the company has rolled out an experimental new feature called Goggles, which lets users define a set of rules that can be applied to their search results.
Effectively, the tool allows for results to be re-ranked in line with the kinds of content the user wants to access. In an example provided by Brave, results for the search term “politics” were configured to prioritize content from tech blogs that might otherwise be squeezed out by major news outlets.
“Since launching one year ago, Brave Search has prioritized independence and innovation in order to give users the privacy they deserve. The web is changing, and our incredible growth shows that there is demand for a new player that puts users first,” said Josep M. Pujol, Chief of Search at Brave.
“Today, we’re releasing Goggles to alter the way search has traditionally been done and to put users in charge at last. The world is too diverse for a single ranking, so Goggles opens search ranking and filtering transparently for everyone to use, share, and improve.”
Brave Search exits beta
Launched in beta precisely one year ago, Brave Search has enjoyed impressive growth to date, supported by the increasing popularity of the company’s web browser.
In its first year, Brave Search serviced upwards of 2.5 billion queries; a milestone achieved in a quarter of the time of direct rival DuckDuckGo. The comparison isn’t entirely fair, because attitudes to privacy have changed considerably since the launch of DuckDuckGo in the late aughts, but the figures look promising for Brave nonetheless.
The official launch also coincides with a period in which DuckDuckGo (whose search engine is built atop Microsoft Bing) is suffering something of a downturn in fortunes, after it emerged the company’s mobile browser does not filter out Microsoft trackers per an agreement with the Redmond giant.
By contrast, Brave pitches its search engine as the only privacy-first alternative on the market that is truly independent of Big Tech, because powered by its own proprietary web index.
In this writer’s experience, the quality of Brave’s search results is fairly high too, although it’s sometimes necessary to fall back on Google for complex queries. Wholly abandoning Google for Brave Search would require a measure of compromise.
However, Brave believes it can close the gap on the market leaders without resorting to invasive monitoring practices, via mechanisms that allow users to submit feedback and anonymously donate their browsing data.
“Of course privacy, independence, and innovation are nice. But search lives and dies on accuracy. From the beginning, we set out to build a search engine that delivers the quality, nuance, and depth that people expect from Google and Bing,” explained the firm.
“To ensure free access to information, it’s imperative we have multiple search providers - without choice there’s no freedom. Search engines that depend too much, or exclusively, on Big Tech are subject to their censorship, biases and editorial decisions. Brave is building an alternative, not a skin on what already exists.”