A study reveals that Google personalizes results in searches even when users search the search engine in “incognito mode” or without having logged in.
The investigation, carried out by the search engine DuckDuckGo, competitor of the technological giant, was carried out during the month of June in the context of the campaign for midterm elections in the United States.
“Even limiting the possibilities of tracking of previous searches Google shows results based on the user’s history.”
The aim of the study was to check whether the search results on Google showed links that pleased the user’s ideology, that is, if only results appeared that align with the past searches to show information that effectively the search user would like to consume.
For the sample, researchers used 87 sets of results, of which 76 were desktop and 11 corresponded to mobile searches. Analysts found that, surprisingly, even if controlling for determinants such as location, the results Google offered for searches on the words “gun control,” “immigration,” and “vaccines” were different among the devices used.
Another of the tests they submitted to the search engine was to perform the searches using the incognito mode and the closed session. In this case, the variations between the different searches were practically the same as those that had occurred with the session started and in normal mode. This reveals that the personalization of searches occurs even when the search of users’ searches is limited.
These variations in the results implied that for the same search, for example in terms of “immigration”, the links to the news belonged to different media companies depending on the device and user used or even that the same link to the same news appeared in different positions, which is crucial at the time of clicking the link.
This reveals that it is very difficult for the same search to find the same results in several users. Google makes each person have their own unique results.