UPDATE: DuckDuckGo says this was a technical issue rather than a policy shift.
“After looking into this,” the company says, “our records indicate that YouTube-dl and The Pirate Bay were never removed from our search results when you searched for them directly by name or URL, which the vast majority of people do (it’s rare for people to use site operators or query operators in general).”
This matches our experience, wherein searches for The Pirate Bay and youtube-dl would return at least some appropriate results, but the site-specific searches wouldn’t work properly.
“We are having issues with our site: operator, and not just for these sites, but now at least the official site should be coming up for them when you use the site: operator for them,” DuckDuckGo says. “Some of the other sites routinely change domain names and have spotty availability, and so naturally come in and out of the index but should be available as of now.”
Original Story 4/16:
DuckDuckGo appears to have (partly) removed piracy-related websites from its search results.
TorrentFreak reports(Opens in a new window) that DuckDuckGo can no longer be used to search for content on The Pirate Bay, Fmovies, and other sites of dubious legality. The service seems to have removed sites dedicated to YouTube-ripping tools such as youtube-dl and youtube-mp3 as well.
DuckDuckGo hasn’t entirely removed these sites and tools from its search results at time of writing. Searching for “The Pirate Bay” still returns the main website, for example, and searching for “youtube-dl” returns the relevant GitHub repository. (Which briefly disappeared from GitHub in 2020 due to a DMCA dispute.)
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TorrentFreak notes that DuckDuckGo previously removed “bangs”—commands preceded by an exclamation mark that make searching for content on specific websites easier—for piracy-related sites in 2018 so it wouldn’t be held liable for copyright violations taking place on those platforms.
DuckDuckGo users could search those sites using the “site:example.com” syntax, however, so removing the associated “bangs” was mostly a matter of convenience. But that syntax no longer works, so it seems that DuckDuckGo is being even more strict about indexing pirate websites.
DuckDuckGo didn’t immediately respond to request for comment.
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