A search engine’s primary job is to rank results. In other words, search engines try to put results that most quickly and accurately answer the query on top. At DuckDuckGo we produce search results from a variety of sources, and when we apply our own ranking signals we do so in a strictly non-political manner, meaning we don’t evaluate or otherwise take into account any potential political bias or leanings of websites in our search result rankings. Similarly, outside of our clearly labeled ads, we do not accept compensation to influence search result rankings.
For many news events, hundreds of media outlets create similar articles, and many of those articles have similar relevancy in terms of keyword matching and popularity. As such, for news-related searches we look to another ranking factor to try to ensure the top few news results aren’t obviously very low-quality so users can immediately have several sources of relevant, quality news results to compare and choose between.
The non-political factor we’ve found to help accomplish this ranking is a well-documented history of a site’s extremely low journalistic standards, correlated with: routinely using spam or clickbait to artificially inflate traffic, consistently publishing stories without citing sources, censoring stories due to operating with very limited press freedom, and misleading readers about who owns, funds, and authors stories for the site.
Many sites may occasionally do one or more of these things, but we take action very rarely, only in the most extreme cases. To identify these rare, extreme cases, we rely on multiple non-governmental and non-political organizations that specialize in objectively assessing journalistic standards. To take any ranking action using this factor, we must see at least three of these organizations independently assess a site as having extremely low journalistic standards and also see that none of these organizations have assessed the same site as having even somewhat robust journalistic standards.
We trust that users can find the right information for themselves, so even in these rare cases we do not remove these sites from our search results page. Additionally, impacted sites are not moved so far down in the results that they are effectively removed. Unless legally prohibited, you should find all media outlets in our results, and they should generally show on top if you search for them by name or domain name. If you see otherwise, please let us know and we will investigate.
Prior versions on GitHub.