Bing went down, and lots of people discovered alternative search engines are whitelabel versions of Bing

It turns out way fewer people knew search engines like DuckDuckGo are just whitelabel versions of Microsoft Bing than I thought. Today, in most of Europe and Asia, search engines like DuckDuckGo, Ecosia, Qwant, other alternative search engines, ChatGPT internet search, and even Windows Copilot were all down. It turns out the culprit was Microsoft Bing; and when Microsoft Bing goes down, everyone who uses it goes down too.

Alternative search engines often try to be vague about their whitelabel status, or even outright hide it altogether. Bing is a popular search engine for whitelabeling, so when Bing goes down, almost the entire house of cards of alternative search engines comes tumbling down as well.

DuckDuckGo, for instance, places a lot of emphasis on using specialised search engines like TripAdvisor and direct sources like Sportradar or Wikipedia, as well as its own crawler and other indexes. However, as we saw today, as soon as Bing goes down, DuckDuckGo just stops working entirely. DDG happens to be my main search engine – a case of less shit than everyone else – so all throughout the day I was met with the error message “There was an error displaying the search results. Please try again.”

I don’t begrudge DDG or other search engines for repackaging Bing search results – building a truly new search engine and running it is incredibly hard, costly, and you’ll always be lagging behind – but I was surprised by how many people didn’t know just how common this practice really was. My Fediverse feeds were filled with people surprised to learn they’d been using Bing all along, just wrapped in a nicer user interface and with some additional features.


  1. 2024-05-23 5:50 pm
  2. 2024-05-23 6:09 pm
    • 2024-05-23 6:55 pm
      • 2024-05-23 9:29 pm
        • 2024-05-24 6:34 pm
    • 2024-05-23 6:56 pm
  3. 2024-05-23 11:58 pm
    • 2024-05-24 12:25 am
    • 2024-05-24 11:53 pm
  4. 2024-05-24 3:11 am
    • 2024-05-24 12:32 pm
    • 2024-05-24 3:29 pm
    • 2024-05-24 11:54 pm
  5. 2024-05-24 7:54 am
  6. 2024-05-24 8:35 am
  7. 2024-05-24 11:32 am
  8. 2024-05-24 2:24 pm
  9. 2024-05-24 7:00 pm
  10. 2024-05-31 7:48 pm