Findx has come far! Looking back at 2017 and forward to an exciting 2018

It’s been a big year for search engines, with the focus on how biased and personalized search results affect what we buy, what we think, and potentially even how we vote in important elections.

We believe that access to unbiased data, and being able to protect our own privacy is important. That’s why we are enthusiastic about our achievements, and continue to passionately work on Findx, our independent and private search engine, browser extensions and mobile apps.

Brian Schildt

Relations @Findx

A year with Europe focusing on access to unbiased information

The European Commision fined Google 2.42 billion euros in June this year, and commissioner Margarethe Vestager said “Google abused its market dominance as a search engine by promoting its own comparison shopping service in its search results, and demoting those of competitors.” She noted that the EC is looking at the other types of search and services provided by Google, and the preliminary findings indicated similar biases.

It is the perfect time to look at alternative search engines and switch to a an independent and private search engine like Findx, that makes sure everything you find is unbiased information.

Highlights at Findx in 2017

After running the closed beta with a select group of people on Findx, the highlight of 2017 was our public beta launch which we followed up with our AMA (ask me anything) on Reddit. The number of responses and the interest you have shown made it clear to us that you also care about privacy and unbiased search. Thank you for all the feedback you gave us! 

Another highlight and important milestone for us was to get the Findx mobile apps in the Apple App Store and on Google Play – and we succeeded! Now you can use Findx for private search and browsing on mobile devices.

Improving search and finding some challenges

Getting a deeper and deeper knowledge about the many aspects of search by running our own independent search engine, we’ve continuously improved the search results with better crawling techniques and by a strong team effort to remove the clutter and spam from our index:

  • The crawler has undergone massive changes to index more pages faster and better.
  • Our independent index has improved and grown significantly, and is now around 2 billion pages. Some of the fundamental components at the core were changed to improve performance and scalability.
  • Actively fighting spam is a continual process, with more than 180,000 domains blocked and over 400 million pages removed from the Findx index. As we’ve refined our crawling algorithms, we’ve been able to detect and block more spam sites. As part of this, we decided to not index adult websites because of the number of links to spammy and malicious sites that are frequent on such pages. Now they don’t clutter up our index.
  • WIth our Danish pilot project to improve results, we’ve focused on detecting the complexities of the language to better understand your search queries. A thank you to the Center for Language Technology at the University of Copenhagen for sharing their work with the STO-database.
  • We’ve been collaborating with e-mærket and SØIK (Department of Serious Economic and International Crime) to bring you accredited shopping results, and to report fake shops and ban them from the Findx index.
  • As an experiment, in October we joined the Brave Publisher Network, and became one of the first search engines to be a verified publisher in the Brave browser. This means you can pay with Basic Attention Tokens when you search using Findx via Brave*, and Findx will be added as one of the default search engines that you can choose in a pending release of Brave.

Not every day in 2017 was easy, and one of the worst was the major setback of finding that we were banned by indexing sites by the biggest cloud providers. With the help of central people in the industry we made sure we were whitelisted by Project Honeypot, a network which helps fight spam on the internet by identifying badly behaved crawlers – this proves our crawler behaves properly!

And of course, we are constantly working on improving our systems behind Findx so they perform well, and are robust and scalable.

Private search and safe browsing on mobile

Towards the second half of the year, we released the Findx apps for iOS and Android, as well as browser extensions for Chrome, Safari and Firefox. We are trying to make it as easy as possible for everyone to search and browse safely in private, without being tracked by advertising cookies.

We participate to raise awareness about personal privacy

We spoke at a couple of events throughout the year, but we had one favourite – the first ever European conference on Data Ethics showcased many fantastic privacy-focused products and services, and we were delighted to present and participate in panel of ethical tech companies. We’d like to send a big thanks to the DataEthics.eu team and especially Pernille Tranberg for the moral support, right from the beginning of our development.

As Champions at StaySafeOnline and the National Cyber Security Awareness Month, we’ve had a number of interesting discussions, especially the planned event chats on social media.

Looking ahead to 2018

So, what’s in store for Findx in the new year? Stick around and be a part of the exciting developments in the privacy tech world!

  • Danish challenge – We will continue to improve the Danish Findx index and results, and we plan to bring what we learn to other European languages during 2018.
  • Customized search – We’d love to let you customize your results to better suit you, which is why we are working on a way for you to personalize the ranking algorithms from your browser and still maintain your privacy.
  • Collaboration with other privacy tech companies – Through the events we have attended, we have established good connections with several privacy tech companies, and we are now looking at collaboration and partnership opportunities.
  • Safe browsing on desktop computers – The Findx private desktop browser is still being actively developed, although it has taken a back seat to our search engine challenge. Keep an eye out for updates about this in the new year.

 

*The link to the Brave browser will support Findx financially as described terms on the Brave website