There is a BIG difference between those “rubbish” search engines (SEs) as you called them, and Google.
There was never a fee to use the real SEs. Google may not charge a dollar value, but most people put a value on their privacy, which Google dictates has no value. Google’s AI is used to respond to your searches based on your Google profile, and most of the content results Google provides, is for sale.
Google has shrunk the Internet into what Google feels is best for you based on your profile. Google controls the content and how content is displayed so they can stalk your visitors, as well as you.
Calling facts and figures a “conspiracy theory” is just a prime example of an assimilated Googie brainwashed by apps and superficial fluff. By all definitions, Google is a legalized Stalker - legal because only governments will have the tenacity to stop them, as many countries have done.
The differences between those SE’s you trashed and Google is, that with the SE’s, one would freely surf all of the ‘Information Highway’. Now one pays with their privacy to be led through the Google catalog while their electronic peeps follow them everywhere.
Google was ordered by the EU to stop profiling by scanning and AI’ing people using Gmail.
Did they stop scanning and profiling americans? NO! Because the U.S. governments buy that information using YOUR money to monitor YOU. It’s no “theory”. It’s a fact - Google it - they are proud of it.
Googies take note - resistance was futile - you have been assimilated - there is no escape - you are forever in their books and you are For Sale.
Google is NOT a search engine. It is a machine designed to use the ‘search’ scenario’ in exchange for stripping away our privacy, selling us products that we don’t want, need or care for, and to sell our profile to any advertiser and government with enough money. WE are Google’s product!