A new study finds that Google search results for the same term vary widely from user to user,. Google says a very small percentage of its search results are personalized, a claim that has helped insulate the company from scrutiny over filter bubbles. But a new study from DuckDuckGo, a new-born Google rival, found that users saw very different results when searching for terms, even after controlling for time and location. Since its survey conducted earlier this year in June, DuckDuckGo did so with the goal of confirming whether Google’s search results make worse the ideological bubbles by feeding you only information you’ve searched for.
A new rival : DuckDuckGo.
The privacy-oriented rival search engine DuckDuckGo had a group of volunteers search for the same terms. “Gun control,” “immigration” and “vaccinations” at the same time. Different users got different links. The company said in a report that some “people were shown a very unusual set of results relative to the other participants, offered some domains seen by no one else.”
The order of the results varied in both private and non-private browsing modes. With 87 people getting a total of 73 different sets of search results for “vaccinations”. The company eliminated variations that could have occurred as a result of the search users’ location. Or because the users made their queries at the same time, when they made the searches.
“Google has claimed to have taken steps to reduce its filter bubble problem. But our latest research reveals a very different story,” DuckDuckGo said in its report. Furthermore, DuckDuckGo CEO, Gabe Weinberg told WIRED. “The goal of the study is to draw attention to Google’s overall political influence, whether it is intentional or not. I think search results are politically biased just by the nature of tailoring them to your past history.”
Google hiding in the shadows?
This seems to prove that there’s no easy way to use Google search. Without the software trying to determine who you are and whether it can serve your needs better. This can be justified by the fact that technology companies all over the world built businesses around being smarter, faster and more personal.
Regardless, Google has come under suspicion in the last couple of years for engaging in practices not widely known. And likely kept out of the limelight to avoid too much public scrutiny. One evident example, surfaced by an investigation from The Wall Street Journal, was how app developers were often able to read your personal Gmail messages, which prompted concern from some users.
Google says it is working to improve the quality of its results. Including in the boxes of featured content that appear at the top of search results. Google said in an email that instances of personalization in search are infrequent. And most common when it comes to clarifying a vague search. It also said that differences in search results can occur thanks to many factors. Other than direct personalization for a user.