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Google letting users opt out of personalized search

Google has been filtering your searches based on personal preference, and since this has caused some stir in the online community, Google is now releasing a way of opting out of Google's personalized search results.

Over the past few months, there's been some concern regarding Google's personalized search. Google collects data on dozens of different factors, including where you are and what your previous searches have been, and then uses that information to improve the results of future searches based on what you probably want to look for. For example, if you've previously searched for "iPad", then searching for tablets will be more likely to give you results on iPads rather than, say, the Galaxy Tab.

At first glance, this might sound like a good thing, and to an extent, it is. Personalized searching means finding what you're looking for faster and with more ease. However, there is a dark side to personalized searches: they edit the web for you, without alerting you or asking permission. This puts you in an information bubble, which restricts the flow of information to you and may narrow your world view. For example, during the height of the political crisis in Egypt, a test was conducted where two people googled the word "Egypt". One of them did receive results focused around the political situation, while the other only received travel links.


Many people are reaching the conclusion that personalized searches isn't for them, and Google has responded by letting their users turn off this search feature. If you have a Google account, such as a Gmail account, you can do this by accessing your account settings and choosing “pause” under Google search. This will stop Google from collecting any further information. Pressing "delete all" web history will also remove previously stored data.

If you do not have a Google apps account, you will have to install a tracking cookie which alerts Google not to store search data. The cookie can downloaded form google.com/history/optout.

David F.
A grad student in experimental physics, David is fascinated by science, space and technology. When not buried in lecture books, he enjoys movies, gaming and mountainbiking

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