Skeptic’s FAQ

Why should I hide my identity when searching in Google or Bing?

When you search as a logged in user, Google (or Bing) saves your query along with other details about your query, including your account information. Over a period of time, there is a list of all the searches you have made, all tied to your identity. Some folks consider this information private, and don’t want Google (or Bing) to have that information.

Also, when searching as a logged in user, your search results are based on your past searches and the links you’ve visited through those searches. In some scenarios, this can cause a filter bubble, showing you more of web pages that you agree with and decreasing the likelihood of finding an alternate point of view.

Both Google and Bing let me turn off search history. Can’t I just use that instead of this app?

Even if you have search history turned off, both Google and Bing appear to associate your query with your account information. The display of that information is turned off, but the search engine notes it down anyway.

Can’t I just use DuckDuckGo instead?

Sure. If you like DuckDuckGo, go for it. You won’t need this app then.

How does this app work?

Hide & Seek provides a Safari content blocker extension that makes use of cookie blocking. Based on your configuration, it generates rules that tell Safari to block cookies on certain URLs.

Will this app work with any browser, or just Safari?

Just Safari. Safari for iOS and Safari for Mac OS X.

Okay, you hide my search activity from Google and Bing. What about my following a search result from Google or Bing? Won’t that get tracked?

Hide & Seek prevents both Google and Bing from taking note of which search results you tap on.

Previously, the iOS app was unable to prevent Google from taking note of this activity (so one had to use the 'Open in New Tab' option instead), but that's fixed in version 1.1 of Hide & Seek for iOS.

How can I be sure this app actually does hide my identity from Google / Bing?

Here’s one way to check if Hide & Seek actually works:

  1. If you have search history turned off in Google / Bing, turn it on temporarily.
  2. Configure Hide & Seek as you want
  3. On iOS, ensure that Hide & Seek is enabled in Settings > Safari > Content Blockers
  4. Use Google / Bing searches while you browse
  5. Check your search history in Google / Bing to see if your search activity shows up there
  6. Once you’re convinced, you can turn off search history

Haven’t I seen the term “Skeptic’s FAQ” somewhere before?

You might have seen it when using Overcast for listening to podcasts.