Brave Search exits beta and relies on Goggles for filtering

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Brave Software, maker of a privacy-focused browser, announced Wednesday that its burgeoning search service has ended beta testing, while its Goggles search personalization system has entered beta testing.

Brave Search, which debuted a year ago, has apparently received 2.5 billion searches since then, and based on current monthly totals, it’s expected to double that number over the next year. The search service is available in the Brave browser and in other browsers via visit search.brave.com.

“Since launching a year ago, Brave Search has prioritized independence and innovation to give users the privacy they deserve,” wrote Josep Pujol, head of search at Brave. “The web is changing and our incredible growth shows that there is a demand for a new player that puts users first.”

According to Brave, it took Google more than a year to reach 2.5 billion searches, and DuckDuckGo, which is powered by Microsoft’s Bing search engine, took over four years to reach a similar search volume.

Brave what that claims now more than 59 million monthly active users, has decided to compete with Google through a service with a confusingly similar name: Goggles. in the an interview With The registry Last year, co-founder and CEO Brendan Eich explained that Goggles isn’t an attempt to compete with Google’s massive search index. Rather, it’s an attempt to innovate in an environment that Google claims to have monopolized.

Dive deep into privacy

Goggles, accessible in a tab below the search.brave.com input field on the results page, offers browser users the ability to redefine the relevance of search results. Or to put it more simply, users can choose how individual websites are moved up or down in search results. they prefer The registry appear higher in your search results? To do this, you can create a Goggle.

Brave imposes its own ranking on the search results for a specific query. And with Goggles, Brave users—individually or as a group—can make their own private or public customizations to the default order.

Brave says this will allow users to counter any built-in bias in its search results, but a likely consequence is that users or groups of users will be able to create rules that enforce a different bias. For example, two of the eight “Popular Goggles” currently appearing in Brave are “Left Sources,” which favors news sources associated with leftist politics, and “correct sources‘, which favors news sources linked to right-wing politics.

Another potential use for Goggles is to derank or exclude sites that post clickbait or junk content. For example, one of the current “Popular Goggles” is “Remove copycats‘, eliminating a large number of domains copying content from more popular sources like Stack Overflow. Anyone who’s been typing programming-oriented queries lately will probably appreciate a way to deal with response spam sites.

The syntax for defining a Goggles file (the domain specific language) is simple. It consists of four required lines of metadata in a text file with a .goggle file type identifier:

! name: The Goggle's name 
! description: What the Goggle does 
! public: true or false 
! author: Your name

And allows additional fields like:

! homepage: the URL displayed on your Goggle's profile. 
! issues: the URL where users can report issues for your Goggle. 
! transferred_to: so ownership of a Goggle can be transferred. 
! avatar: a valid HEX color code for your Goggle. 
! license: the license governing a given Goggle.

The functional part of a Goggles file consists of action definitions that can be used to increase, demote, or discard the rank of websites, as described in documentation:

For example:

$boost=4,site=theregister.com

There is also support for wildcard characters and basic pattern matching. Close .google Files visible to Brave, users simply need to save them to a supported hosting site: gist.github.com, github.comor gitlab.com. And then they can submit them to Brave. Goggles files are limited to 2MB, cannot contain more than 10,000 instructions, and individual instructions cannot contain more than 500 characters, two wildcards

character or two carets (^). “A Goggle is a URL-addressed file with adblock filter syntax to rearrange the index to suit your needs or those of your community,” Eich explainedvia twitter

. Content-blocking browser extensions work similarly to Goggles and rely on different onesfilter lists

, like EasyList, which individuals and groups maintain to block offensive ads, trackers, and the like. While these extensions focus on removing both unwanted content and hostile scripts — and maybe work better thanks to more sophisticated pattern matching — Goggles is optimized for reordering search results in addition to hiding junk sites.

“Search engines that depend too much or exclusively on big tech are subject to their censorship, bias, and editorial choices,” says Brave. “The web needs multiple search providers – without choice there is no freedom.”

How personal is too personal?

Google offers derived search personalization by collecting information about users and using what they know to determine how websites should rank in search results.

Goggles relies on declarative search personalization; it allows people to rearrange the web to suit their own biases, for better or for worse. How many people will bother remains to be seen – keeping a long list of reevaluation actions can involve more administration than most want. In theory, if a certain public Goggle were to become widespread, it could change the information landscape for certain topics. Given recent efforts by at least a dozen states ban schools

From discussing gender identity and sexual orientation, efforts to encourage compliance through technical interventions could appeal to censoring groups where legal restrictions are challenged in courts.

But for that to be a realistic concern, Brave would need to match the market dominance of companies like Google, Metas Facebook, Microsoft, and Twitter, which are currently shaping public perception through search and social media.

Until then, Goggles offers a way to see the web on your own terms and not someone else’s. ®

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