Google search re­sults are per­son­alised even when incog­nito, study finds


APC Australia - - » Need To Know - Sharmishta Sarkar

A study con­ducted by Duck­DuckGo has found that Google’s tar­geted search re­sults are prac­ti­cally im­pos­si­ble to es­cape. The study sug­gests that this “fil­ter bub­ble” re­mains ac­tive for each in­di­vid­ual user, even when us­ing pri­vate brows­ing (incog­nito mode) or when logged out of a Google ac­count. As part of the ex­per­i­ment 87 par­tic­i­pants searched for the terms “gun con­trol”, “vac­cines” and “im­mi­gra­tion” at the same time, only to find each in­di­vid­ual had markedly dif­fer­ent re­sults de­spite the iden­ti­cal terms.

It was found that most par­tic­i­pants had unique re­sults, with first page re­sults vary­ing across the board as well. While some in­di­vid­u­als shared a few com­mon first page links, they weren’t avail­able to oth­ers. Even pri­vate brows­ing and be­ing logged out “of­fered very lit­tle fil­ter bub­ble pro­tec­tion”. “These tac­tics sim­ply do not pro­vide the anonymity most peo­ple ex­pect,” claims Duck­DuckGo. “In fact, it’s sim­ply not pos­si­ble to use Google search and avoid its fil­ter bub­ble.” While the study is far from sci­en­tific and the re­sults po­ten­tially bi­ased, it does pro­vide in­ter­est­ing in­sight. How­ever, Google isn’t tak­ing the bait, say­ing the study is flawed.

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