Personalized search results from Google

You probably noticed that lately Google offers the option to personalize your search results. This means that they will serve you results based on your interests (if you have a Google profile), your friends interests and your internet behavior. You are probably aware that if you access their search service (or any Google service) your public data (like IP address, browser, operating system, country, city, search history, etc.) is stored on their servers. All the search results they will serve you will be somehow connected to this. More than that, if you have friends in your Google plus circles that recommends content on Google (using +1), that content appears in your searches if it’s relevant to your search. As an example on how Google is doing this, see below two screenshots of the same search term (India) using different browsers and different Google accounts. I am curious how your Google search results on India looks like.

google results on indiagoogle results on india

Up to a certain extent this is good because sometimes you will get only the most relevant results in your searches. But as we know, internet is full of hackers and spammers that for sure will take advantage of this (like creating +1 exchange networks) because they say +1 was added as a criteria for ranking sites relevance so +1 is becoming the new SEO tool (you can also buy +1s to promote your site).

Is it relevance the only criteria needed to filter and rank my search results? Eric Schmidt from Google sais: “It will be very hard for people to watch or consume something that has not in some sense been tailored for them.” What scares me the most is that the same philosophy is having another important person from the online business, Mark Zuckerberg, CEO Facebook: “A squirrel dying in front of your house may be more relevant to your interests right now than people dying in Africa.” And this is actually reflected on the feeds I am seeing on my Facebook wall, I am getting there only relevant feeds (feeds that Facebook considers are relevant for me based on my past activities on their website). If you don’t believe this, read this interesting article about the algorithm used to determine which friends you interact with – and so appear most often on your news feed: http://techcrunch.com/2010/04/22/facebook-edgerank/

But do we need only relevant results? Should we also get important, uncomfortable, challenging results? Or other points of view? Shouldn’t we have the freedom to filter what we consider is relevant for us and not a machine or an algorithm?

@Later edit: Do you consider this article relevant? Than hit the +1 button below, it might get exposed to other interested readers!

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