DuckDuckGo Is Dealing With an Outage and Users Aren't Happy

"We're currently experiencing an issue with DuckDuckGo Search that might prevent you from getting results. Thanks for your patience."

Melissa Willets - Author

May 23 2024, Published 10:39 a.m. ET

DuckDuckGo search engine on smartphone
Source: Getty Images

As users know, DuckDuckGo is a self-proclaimed private search engine that says it won't track your searches like Chrome and others.

By using this free search engine, users also have the ability to limit or block pop-ups and ads, and overall enjoy a simpler, more private browsing experience.

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The browser has grown in popularity immensely in recent years, boasting as many as 100 million users as of 2023.

But as of May 23, 2024, DuckDuckGo's search capability is down. What's going on? Here's what we know, and what users are saying about the timing of the outage.

A person looking at smartphone with DuckDuckGo logo in the backdrop
Source: Getty Images
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So, what happened to DuckDuckGo?

On May 23, 2024, an update was posted to DuckDuckGo's Twitter page explaining a current problem.

"Announcement: We're currently experiencing an issue with DuckDuckGo Search that might prevent you from getting results," the post read. "Thanks for your patience while we get our ducks in a row…"

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This was after the search engine shared this announcement just one day prior: "The Duck has been busy! We've rolled out multiple updates to our browser and search engine over the last few months improving our search results, adding new privacy protections, dealing with annoying cookie pop-ups, and more."

As one user pointed out, that update "didn't age well" considering that just hours later, the search engine was down. Many people vented that a browser of this scale shouldn't be out for hours on end. Plenty said they were forced to use Google, which they would prefer not to.

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Others were more concerned that the DuckDuckGo outage corresponded to Bing being down.

"You're not 'experiencing an issue,' @bing is, and this outage exposed your dependency [on] @Microsoft. Goodbye," one irritated customer said, echoing the sentiments of countless others.

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"Interesting since BING is ALSO DOWN," exploded another Twitter user.

Obviously, this connection has people wondering how private DuckDuckGo really is. At the time of writing, the company hadn't issued any statements about whether its outage was in any way correlated to Bing's issue.

But The Verge reports that the service does indeed rely on Bing's API, short for Application Programming Interface.

Just before 5 a.m. on May 23, Microsoft shared this update on Twitter, "We're investigating an issue where users may be unable to access the Microsoft Copilot service. We're working to isolate the cause of the issue. More information can be found in the admin center under CP795190."

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At the time of writing, we don't know when the service is going to be restored. Ecosia and Chat GPT have also been interrupted while the issue is being investigated.

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As for how the outage will ultimately impact DuckDuckGo, that remains to be seen. Will users flee the search engine in favor of another private browser such as Brave? As many frustrated DuckDuckGo devotees said on Twitter, Brave is working and they may feel more comfortable browsing there.

According to Tech Report, Brave only has about 15.5 million users at this time, but perhaps DuckDuckGo's problems will lead to a surge in that statistic?

We'll be sure to follow up.

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