Brave Search leaves beta and puts glasses on filtering • The Register

Brave Software, maker of a privacy-focused browser, said Wednesday that its burgeoning search service exited beta testing while its Goggles search customization system entered beta testing.

Brave Search, which debuted a year ago, has apparently received 2.5 billion search queries since then and, based on current monthly totals, is expected to handle twice that over the next year. The search service is available in the Brave browser and in other browsers by visiting 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 research at Brave. “The web is changing, and our incredible growth shows there’s 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 it took DuckDuckGo, which relies on Microsoft’s Bing search engine, more than four years to reach a volume of similar search.

Brave, who now claims more … than 59 million monthly active users, has chosen to compete with Google via a service with a confusing name: Goggles. In an interview with The register last year, co-founder and CEO Brendan Eich explained that Goggles is not an attempt to match Google’s vast search index. Rather, it is an effort to innovate in an environment that Google would have monopolized.

Dive into privacy

Goggles, accessible in a tab below the search.brave.com input box on the results page, offers browser users the ability to redefine the relevance of search results. Or more simply, it allows users to select how individual sites are enhanced or reduced in search results. You prefer The register appear higher in your search results? You can create a mask to do this.

Brave imposes its own ranking on search results for a given query. And with Goggles, Brave users – individually or in groups – can create their own private or public adjustments to the default order.

Brave says this will allow users to counter any bias built into its search results, but a likely consequence is that users or user groups will be able to craft rules that apply a different bias. For example, two of the eight “popular glasses” that have appeared in Brave right now include “Left sources“, which favors news sources associated with leftist politics, and”good sources“, which favors news sources associated with right-wing politics.

Another potential use of Goggles is to downgrade or exclude websites that post clickbait or unwanted content. For example, one of the current “popular glasses” is “Removal of copierswhich eliminates a lot of domains that copy content from more popular sources like Stack Overflow. Anyone who’s recently entered programming-oriented queries is likely to 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 mandatory metadata lines 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 Google Goggles file consists of action definitions, through which websites can have their rankings improved, downgraded or removed, as shown in the Documentation:

For instance:

$boost=4,site=theregister.com

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

characters or two caret (^) characters. “A Goggle is a URL-addressed file of Adblock filter syntax to re-rank the index based on your needs or those of your community,” Eich explained.by Twitter

. Content blocking browser extensions work similarly to Goggles, relying on variousfilter lists

, like EasyList, which individuals and groups maintain to block nasty ads, trackers, and more. While these extensions focus on removing both unwanted content and hostile scripts – and may do a better job with more sophisticated pattern matching – Goggles is optimized for reordering search results in addition to hiding unwanted websites.

“Search engines that rely too heavily or exclusively on Big Tech are subject to their censorship, bias, and editorial decisions,” Brave says. “The web needs multiple search providers – without choice, there is no freedom.”

To what extent are the staff too personal?

Google offers inferred search personalization by collecting information about users and using what it knows to determine how sites rank in search results.

Google Goggles opts for declarative search personalization; it allows people to reclassify the web based on their own biases, for better or for worse. How many people will bother to do this remains to be seen – maintaining a long list of reclassification actions can result in a heavier management overhead than most would like. If a particular audience Goggle sees widespread adoption, it could in theory change the information landscape for certain topics. Given the recent efforts of at least a dozen states ban schools

to discuss gender identity and sexual orientation, efforts to promote compliance through technical interventions could attract groups of censors when legal restrictions are under legal challenge.

But for that to become a realistic concern, Brave would have to match the market dominance of companies like Google, Meta’s Facebook, Microsoft, and Twitter that are currently shaping public perception through search and social media.

Until then, Goggles provides a way to see the web on your own terms rather than someone else’s. ®

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