Do not use Kagi

For quite a while now, you might have noticed various people recommending a search engine called “Kagi”. From random people on the internet, to prominent bloggers like John Gruber and David Pierce, they’ve all been pushing this seemingly new search engine as a paid-for alternative to Google that respects your privacy. Over the past few months to a year, though, more and more cracks started to appear in Kagi’s image, and I’ve been meaning to assemble those cracks and tie a bow on them.

Well, it turns out I don’t have to, because lori (I’m not aware of their full name, so I’ll stick to lori) already did it for me in a blog post titled “Why I lost faith in Kagi“. Even though I knew all of these stories, and even though I was intending to list them in more or less the same way, it’s still damning to see it all laid out so well (both the story itself, as well as the lovely, accessible, approachable, and simple HTML, but that’s neither here nor there).

Lori’s summary hits on all the pain points (but you should really read the whole thing):

Between the absolute blase attitude towards privacy, the 100% dedication to AI being the future of search, and the completely misguided use of the company’s limited funds, I honestly can’t see Kagi as something I could ever recommend to people. Is the search good? I mean…it’s not really much better than any other search, it heavily leverages Bing like DDG and the other indie search platforms do, the only real killer feature it has to me is the ability to block domains from your results, which I can currently only do in other search engines via a user script that doesn’t help me on mobile. But what good is filtering out all of the AI generated spamblogs on a search platform that wants to spit more AI generated bullshit at me directly? Sure I can turn it off, but who’s to say that they won’t start using my data to fuel their own LLM? They already have an extremely skewed idea of what counts as PII or not. They could easily see using people’s searches as being “anonymized” and decide they’re fine to use, because their primary business isn’t search, it’s AI.

↫ lori at lori’s blog

The examples underpinning all these pain points are just baffling, like how the company was originally an “AI” company, made a search engine that charges people for Bing results, and now is going full mask-off with countless terrible, non-working, privacy-invasive “AI” tools. Or that thing where the company spent one third of their funding round of $670,000 on starting a T-shirt company in Germany (Kagi is US-based) to print 20,000 free T-shirts for their users that don’t even advertise Kagi. Or that thing where they claimed they “forgot” to pay sales tax for two years and had to raise prices to pay their back taxes. And I can just keep on going.

To make matters worse, after publication of the blog post, Kagi’s CEO started harassing lori over email, and despite lori stating repeatedly they wanted him to stop emailing them, he just kept on going. Never a good look.

The worst part of it, though, is the lack of understanding about what privacy means, while telling their users they are super serious about it. Add to that the CEO’s “trust me, bro” attitude, their deals with the shady and homophobic crypto company Brave, and many other things, and the conclusion is that, no, your data is not safe at Kagi at all, and with their primary business being “AI” and not search, you know exactly what that means.

Do not use Kagi.


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