Here Is a Chart of People Freaking Out About Online Privacy

DuckDuckGo, the "alternative search engine," pitches itself as a kind of anti-Google Google, with a particular focus on user privacy. ("DuckDuckGo does not collect or share personal information. That is our privacy policy in a nutshell.")

So it's telling to see, in this graph of DuckDuckGo's usage, the crazy traffic spike that the site has seen since the beginning of the year.

duckduck615.png

Yeah. Duck and then duck and then, suddenly ... GO. On March 28, 2011, the site fielded 195,331 direct queries from users. A year later -- as of earlier this week -- the number of queries had lept to 1,467,247.

The query spike coincides with DuckDuckGo's January 2012 visual redesign -- which, though the changes didn't represent a huge overhaul, came with a spate of added publicity for the site -- and with, more recently, late January's Data Privacy Day.

But it seems to coincide with something bigger, too: the public's growing awareness of the many trade-offs of online privacy, particularly when it comes to Google. So the chart above suggests on the one hand an upstart search engine growing its base of users. But it also suggests, on the other, a base of users who are panicking about their privacy -- slowly, steadily, and then, whoa, exponentially.

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Megan Garber is a staff writer at The Atlantic. She was formerly an assistant editor at the Nieman Journalism Lab, where she wrote about innovations in the media.

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