It’s not every day a new search engine comes online, but You.com is betting its AI-driven and privacy-focused approach can convince people that it’s better than Google.
Launching this week as a public beta, You.com is the brainchild of former Salesforce chief scientist Richard Socher, who claims his new search engine is built on trust, kindness, and facts — that’s a lofty claim during a time filled with so much misinformation.
“We want to work on having more click trust and less clickbait on the internet,” Socher told TechCrunch.
But sifting through all the content on the internet and delivering useful search results isn’t easy. So to provide more trustworthy results, You.com uses an AI-powered algorithm that uses natural language processing to better understand potential queries.
The process of summarizing results looks to be one of You.com’s selling points. The company says its “aim is to make your life easier by summarizing the web for you, eliminating the need to open multiple tabs.” To that end, You.com also lets you set preferred sources so results from those sites are ranked higher in your searches.
You.com is a completely ad-free platform — the company claims that it “never sells your data to advertisers or follows you around the internet” and that it will never feature targeted ads. The search engine uses integrated apps from sites like BBC News, Craigslist, and others to make it easier to choose what kind of content you want to see.
You.com also offers a private mode that claims to “never store your queries, preferences or locations.” And even in its less privacy-focused standard mode, You.com uses its IP address (not yours) to send anonymised data in order to populate results from apps and sites such as local weather info and things like nearby restaurants or attractions.
You.com even claims that its operations are carbon neutral thanks to a partnership with Sustain.Life to offset the search engine’s carbon emissions.
However, without ads to generate revenue, it’s currently unclear what You.com’s business model really is aside from using affiliate links to generate a “tiny” amount of revenues. Socher told VentureBeat:
“The first page of Google can only be modified by paying for advertisements, which is both annoying to users and costly for companies. Our new platform will enable companies to contribute their most useful actual content to that first page, and — if users like it — they can take an action right then and there. Most companies and partners will prefer this new interface to people’s digital lives over the old status quo of Google.”
You.com is currently in beta, so there are a lot of critical features still in development. The search engine is currently only able to support English language searches and U.S.-focused apps, and the site is prioritising its desktop web experience while it works on mobile optimisation.
But if you want to try You.com out for yourself, you can install its Chrome extension or set it as your default search engine in all of today’s most popular browsers (aside from Safari). You.com does note that you’ll get the “best experience” using Brave.