Ecosia: A New Globally-Conscious Web Browser Choice

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Google’s Chrome may well be the top dog of web browsers, with Microsoft’s Edge and Apple’s Safari not too far behind. Not the world’s most glorious distinction, but when you consider how much our vehicle of choice for the information superhighway plays into our daily lives then there certainly is something to be evaluated. Think about it – can you imagine there’s been even 1 day in the last however many years that you haven’t been somewhere on the World Wide Web at least once?

The significance of one’s browser of-choice goes even further when they’re a person who makes their living in the digital space, and is preceded only by the absolute need for reliable high-speed internet. Often that need is paired with the primary means of making oneself and one’s service or product visible – a website. That would lead us to a discussion of those of us here at 4GoodHosting or any of the many other quality Canadian web hosting providers across the country.

Now of course we have our preferred browsers too, but one of the things that we believe in here is the need for environmental stewardship within the digital world. One example is how we’ve made efforts to ensure our data centres are as energy-efficient as possible, and we’ve definitely taken some cues from others there. And that leads into what we’re going to discuss here today for Family Day in Canada, how an emerging web browser choice is aiming to make the world a more liveable place for families here in Canada and elsewhere around the globe.

The Tree-Planting Browser

Ecosia was founded in 2009 by Thomas Kroll, and what it does is direct any revenue not required to cover its overheads, tax, and marketing efforts towards tree planting initiatives. The company is founded on green principles and power for its infrastructure is provided by very large solar farms, which serves a bigger picture interest in itself by proving that investing in renewable energy is actually profitable,

The company also has an excellent value proposition. Due to competition being less fierce, advertising on Ecosia is roughly two or three times less pricey per click than it would be for Google, equalling cheaper and more profitable traffic. Ecosia, however, is still a nobody in the world of web browsers – as of now they are responsible for less than 1% of search worldwide. Google? 91.39% of market share.

But one thing Google can’t ever claim is that they’ve planted a tree. Ecosia, on the other hand, has planted an estimated 120 million trees around the world at 9,000 different sites and they’d like to do a whole lot more of it.

Here’s the breakdown of how it’s been working, and something to think about if you’d like to do some global good with your web searching tendencies. For every 45 searches made with Ecosia, one tree is planted. That’s been working out to about 1.3 trees per second, which suggests that about 5 million searches are carried out every day with Ecosia as the web browser.

Ecosia is currently the largest private tree planting organization in the world, and their belief is that one trillion trees will need to be planted over the next two decades in order to counteract the effects of climate change.


2 Functional Differences

While all of this may have a real feel-good vibe to it, some people may be asking if there’s any deficiency in results when using Ecosia rather than Google chrome. The general consensus online is that the 2 search engines will bring back the same results for any given query most of the time, but there are differences.

Ecosia is built on the Microsoft Bing algorithm and infrastructure. What this means is that search queries will generate slightly different results compared to what the Google algorithm will generate. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing and it doesn’t mean you’ll get lower quality or less keyword-specific results. But it’s something that users should be aware of if they’re interested in using this eco-friendly web browser that also promotes social initiatives.

Another thing to relate is that Ecosia lacks many of the ‘rich answers; that you’d get with Google (examples being live sports scores or basic responses to common questions). According to data from 2019, more than 30% of Google searches generated rich answers. That’s great, but let’s keep in mind that building this functionality is resource-heavy and involves complex licensing agreements.

Ecosia also doesn’t use data to build out profiles for each user, and this means that ads and search results are identical for everyone. With limited data collection search results are less likely to yield precisely what users are looking for, but concerns around data privacy and the effects of echo chambers are minimized.

So if you find ‘personalized’ ads to be a little creepy and intrusive to being with, that might be another reason to go with Ecosia as your web browser instead. Ecosia is also working to implement a mechanism that allows users to choose which priority to optimize for, search accuracy or privacy. This is one wave-maker that deserves having an eye kept on it, and there’ a lot to be said for bringing philanthropy into web browsing.

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