Brave acquires Tailcat search engine; will offer search results without profiling users

Brave Software has acquired the Tailcat search engine, to step up the competition with Google Search. Tailcat will be integrated in to Brave Browser, as Brave Search.

Brave Search is intended to be an alternative for Google Search, while being a privacy-focused service that does not collect IP addresses or personal information, and won’t track users.

So, this sounds similar to DuckDuckGo. But there are quite a few differences.

What is Brave Search?

Brave says that Search will serve the user first, in other words it is not devoid of ads. Instead of tracking users with personalized ads, Brave Search will employ non-targeted ads. If you’re familiar with the Brave Browser, you may have noticed how the user ads work. The browser displays random sponsored ads (non-personalized, ad campaigns) which when viewed earns you some BATs (Basic Attention Tokens. Brave says it is working on private ads which will be delivered via search. There are plans to offer Brave Rewards with Search, so this could be another way to earn more BATs.

There will be two tiers in Brave Search; an ad-free premium search, while the other will be an ad-supported search as described above. Brave claims that it will provide unbiased search results without forced censorship or biased algorithms, unlike other services which have been criticized and have often been hit by lawsuits, for promoting specific results.

Tailcat is a search engine that was developed by Cliqz. You may have heard of the Cliqz browser, it was a fork of Mozilla Firefox, and was focused on privacy and included a custom search engine. Mozilla invested in Cliqz back in , but a year later Cliqz (the company behind it) acquired the popular privacy-focused extension, Ghostery. Four years later, in 2020, Cliqz was shut down. The browser’s built-in search engine was the first to display search suggestions and top search results as the search query was being typed in the address bar. The important part here is that the search engine delivered results, while protecting the privacy of the user.

You may know this already, but DuckDuckGo’s search suggestions (Autosuggest) are powered by Microsoft’s Bing, Yahoo, etc. In fact, it has hundreds of . Tailcat on the other hand is an independent search engine, i.e., it doesn’t rely on Bing, Google, etc, it has its own index. This is just an educated guess, but these are likely the features that made Brave Software want to acquire Tailcat.

Brave Search isn’t available for users yet, you can join the waitlist by visiting https://brave.com/search/.

You will have the option to choose the search engine of your choice in Brave Browser, that’s not surprising as anti-trust laws practically guarantee that users have multiple options. But more interestingly, the announcement says Brave Search will be available on other browsers as well. So, we could use it in Firefox, Vivaldi, Chrome, Edge, etc.

Brave says that it has over 25 million monthly active users in 2021, and likened its growth to the recent exodus from Whatsapp to Signal, after the Facebook-owned service shot itself in the foot by making questionable changes to its privacy policy.

Closing Words

I’m not a fan of Ghostery or Brave for that matter (though I’m intrigued by its recent developments), is it a browser that also happens to have a cryptocurrency associated with it? Or is it the other way around? Regardless of that, having an unbiased, independent, open ranking alternative to a dominant Big Tech based service does sound good on paper, but only time will tell how Brave Search turns out to be.

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