upnorth

Level 25
Content Creator
Verified
Joined
Jul 27, 2015
Messages
1,498
#1
New research has found that it doesn’t matter what you do to burst out of Google’s search filter bubble: you can log out of Google, then enter private browsing mode, but those precautions won’t render your search anonymous. Google’s search engine will still tailor results to the personal information the company has on you, including search, browsing and purchase history.

Granted, the research comes from search competitor DuckDuckGo, which draws search results from third-party sites such as Bing, Yahoo and Yandex without tracking you. The research is still eye-opening, though, in spite of DuckDuckGo being a competitor. In order to test whether a search engine is really profiling you or not, it helps to keep in mind that a search engine that doesn’t profile users should show all users who search at the same time the same search results for a given search term, without tweaking the results based on things like an individual’s previous search history.

Google has claimed to have taken steps to reduce the filter bubble problem – a problem that’s been implicated in influencing US presidential election outcomes both in 2016 and in the 2012 Romney-Obama bout. The thinking is that profiling search users and feeding them tailored search results essentially surrounds them with a walled garden of information they already agree with, thereby silencing new information or differing opinions. But in spite of Google’s steps to pop the bubble, it’s still showing users nonidentical search results even when they’re in private browsing mode, signed out of Google services.
 

Arequire

Level 21
Content Creator
Verified
Joined
Feb 10, 2017
Messages
1,086
Operating System
Windows 10
Antivirus
#3
It's amusing to see this news suddenly making the rounds now. Personalised search results for signed-out users was announced by Google back in freakin' 2009:
Official Google Blog: Personalized Search for everyone

Also the way Google instruct you to turn off personalised results is complete manipulation:
our search and ad results may be customized even if you're signed out. For example, you might see results based on results you click, including links to apps.

To remove these results, follow these steps:

  1. Open the Control your Google ads page.
  2. If you haven't already, sign in to your Google Account.
  3. Turn off Ads personalization.
Note: This will turn the setting off for anyone who uses your same browser and device unless they sign in.
It assumes you have a Google account, or if you don't have one, pushes you towards the idea that you have to have an account to turn off personalisation, which isn't true.
For those who don't have an account and want to turn off search personalisation, you can go here: Google – Search Customisation (switch .co.uk to whatever your country's top-level domain is. This will only stay turned off if the cookie set by Google for this setting isn't deleted).
 
Last edited:

DeepWeb

Level 20
Verified
Joined
Jul 1, 2017
Messages
962
Operating System
Windows 10
Antivirus
Kaspersky
#6
Because people don't use their privacy extensions in incognito mode so really incognito mode is even less private and you're giving more data away. I recommend using Privacy Possum which blocks all tracking technologies including fingerprinting.

But the real issue is that Chrome's built in DNS cache shares queries between regular and incognito mode. The truth is Google probably knows way more about us than we think. They're probably aware when you are in incognito mode or using adblock and intentionally change your results to make us feel like those extensions are effective.
 

Arequire

Level 21
Content Creator
Verified
Joined
Feb 10, 2017
Messages
1,086
Operating System
Windows 10
Antivirus
#7
This is already confirmed.
doubleclick.net/instream/ad_status.js
This little piece of javascript is used to track ad block usage. If it's blocked then it's assumed that the user is using an ad blocker. It's whitelisted by EasyList on 5 select sites due to breakage but its blocked everywhere else.
Fanboy's Enhanced Trackers List whitelists it on all sites under its "Anti Adblock & Anti Adblock Tracking" section.