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Privacy-centric search engine DuckDuckGo has completely removed search results from many popular pirate sites, including The Pirate Bay, 1337x and Fmovies. Several YouTube ripping services have also disappeared and even the homepage of the youtube-mp3 open source software cannot be found.
Launched in 2008, the DuckDuckGo search engine is an essential service for Internet users concerned about their privacy.
Unlike many competitors, the site does not keep records of users’ IP addresses or other sensitive information.
In recent years, the site has also stood out by returning cleaner results than competitors such as Google, which is actively changing its algorithms to downgrade pirate sites. At one point, Google even directed users to DuckDuckGo when they searched for Pirate Bay proxies.
DuckDuckGo fears its responsibility
However, the privacy-focused search engine is not immune to potential copyright issues. This first appeared when he removed several search shortcuts for “pirate” sites. These “bangs”, as they are called, were seen as potential liability for copyright infringement.
“We operate globally, as do bongs, and products that actively facilitate interaction with illegal content may expose us and our employees to significant legal liability and jeopardize the entire service. “, DuckDuckBang’s Tagawa explained.
DuckDuckGo ended up removing about 2,000 bangs for popular sites like The Pirate Bay, 1337x, and RARBG. At the time, the search engine pointed out that these sites were still listed in search results. However, that seems to have changed now.
Pirate domains are deindexed
While researching earlier today, we noticed that several popular pirate sites were no longer showing up in DuckDuckGo results globally. Initially, we thought some popular pages were taken down following DMCA takedown notices, but there’s clearly more going on.
For example, searching for “site:thepiratebay.org” is supposed to return all results that DuckDuckGo has indexed for the main domain name of The Pirate Bay. In this case, there is none.
The lack of results is not tied to a specific country and manually changing the region settings didn’t change anything either. Apparently, DuckDuckgo simply removed all thepiratebay.org URLs from its index.
This site-wide removal isn’t limited to The Pirate Bay either. When we perform similar searches for 1337x.to, NYAA.se, Fmovies.to, Lookmovie.io and 123moviesfree.net, no results appear. For RarBG.to and Fitgirl-repacks, we only get one result, instead of the hundreds of thousands we see on other search engines.
The absence of results does not only apply to the pirate sites themselves. For example, there are no results for the Flixtor and Primewire streaming portals. In addition, the related status pages, which only have links to official domains, are also not indexed.
Even several popular stream-rippers have been completely wiped from search results. This includes 2conv.com, Flvto.bid and several others.
By far the most surprising omission is that the official open source software site youtube-dl is not indexed by DuckDuckGo. This site certainly does not host or link to any copyright infringing material.
The youtube-dl code repository was previously removed from GitHub, following a takedown notice sent by the RIAA. After taking a closer look at the issue, Github finally restored it.
We don’t know why the official youtube-dl.org website isn’t showing up in DuckDuckGo’s search results, but at least the official GitHub repository is still findable.
TorrentFreak contacted DuckDuckGo to find out why these domain names are not showing up in their search results. At the time of publication, we had no news yet. It wouldn’t be a surprise if the move is copyright-related, though.
A few months ago, Google also began removing several pirate site domains from its search results. However, in Google’s case, these delistings are regional and tied to ISP blocking orders.
It should be pointed out that many pirate sites are still findable in DuckDuckGo. However, the search engine could certainly provide some transparency to help clarify what exactly is going on.
Rightsholders will be happy to see pirate sites removed from DuckDuckGo, but it’s not without risk for users. While seasoned hackers can probably still locate the sites in question, more shady counterfeit sites will now show up higher in its search results.