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How the UK search engine Mojeek offers you an alternative

CEO Colin Hayhurst writes for the Cambridge Independent to explain what it has to offer, compared to you know who.

Mojeek offers an alternative for searching
Mojeek offers an alternative for searching

Next time you want to search for information, think about how you’re going about it.

The natural instinct will probably be to turn to Google, but there are good reasons for seeking an alternative – and one of them is an independently-owned UK search engine: Mojeek.

So why would you use that? Well, for one thing, Mojeek does not collect any personal data at all.

Google, by contrast, will almost certainly know more about you than you know about it. It’s like it’s peering over your shoulder all the time. Do you want to put a sensitive medical query into Google?

British developer Marc Smith launched Mojeek back in 2004. His motivation grew as he observed Google – launched in a Silicon Valley garage in 1998 – turning into a data-thirsty behemoth. He believed collecting personal data was unethical.

What started as a hobby project for Marc, using two computers in his bedroom, became a mission, and Mojeek is now an index of more than six billion webpages – the only one of its kind based in the UK, or indeed, Europe.

It is used globally, with the biggest user base found in the UK and US.

And it has retained its independence.

By contrast, other search offerings typically depend on Google and/or Microsoft. What you might think of as search engines are really search services. For instance, Ecosia and DuckDuckGo depend on Microsoft’s Bing search engine and advertising network. Your search queries are channelled by them to Microsoft, which in turn provide back search results and adverts, presented to you by a branded web search service.

By 2020, Mojeek had grown into a business ready to go to market seriously, and it was supported by a personal investment from the owner of Iliffe Media, the Cambridge Independent’s publisher.

It was prescient timing as concerns about Google’s monopoly were growing.

Mojeek’s API is now used by Iliffe Media to power its internal search pages and by others, including a leading US company.

Building a search engine is a very different proposition to building a search service.

Like Google, the team at Mojeek builds its own servers, which are housed in a secure room at the Custodian data centre in Kent.

Mojeek is a search engine that doesn't track users
Mojeek is a search engine that doesn't track users

Crucially, all software at Mojeek was developed in-house, with zero dependence on any other software company. Mojeek is a UK business, paying UK taxes and creating UK jobs.

The differences it offers become obvious when you use Mojeek, instead of Google, Bing or the others.

People use Mojeek to exercise their freedom to seek. Unlike Google, it provides neutral, not personalised, results.

Mojeek is not interested in who you are, and does not presume to know what you want – instead it will point you to webpages where you can find out what you need.

Google offers information boxes and ‘people also ask’ questions and answers – designed to keep you on Google and present you with responses, often partial in nature.

Mojeek encourages discovery, navigation and transactions on the open web.

We encourage you to see the way the world is, rather than how Google says you should see it.

Give it a try. Google may not be going anywhere, but you can.

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