Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 5th Nov 2012 12:28 UTC
Google "Google's quest to guess what we want before we want it has produced an unusual side effect: a disparity in the results the company presents about the presidential candidates. A Wall Street Journal examination found that the search engine often customizes the results of people who have recently searched for 'Obama' - but not those who have recently searched for 'Romney'." A confirmation bias' wet dream, this. The confirmation bias is already one of the root psychological causes of much of the problems in the world as it is - we really shouldn't have technology companies make it worse. Technology - and more specifically, the internet - should fight this bias, not affirm it.
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RE: The article
by Beta on Mon 5th Nov 2012 13:41 UTC in reply to "The article"
Beta Member since:
2005-07-06

Thanks.

Reply Score: 2

RE: The article
by Thom_Holwerda on Mon 5th Nov 2012 15:10 UTC in reply to "The article"
Thom_Holwerda Member since:
2005-06-29

Yeah I forgot. Thanks, and fixed it!

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: The article
by Alfman on Mon 5th Nov 2012 17:31 UTC in reply to "RE: The article"
Alfman Member since:
2011-01-28

Thom Holwerda,

Wsj.com is a paywall for me in NY, probably others elsewhere in the US too. Just want to make sure you know we don't all have access to the linked article.

It's ironic isn't it? Not everyone can read the article that talks about how the same web pages appear differently to different people.

Edited 2012-11-05 17:37 UTC

Reply Score: 3

RE[3]: The article
by Thom_Holwerda on Mon 5th Nov 2012 17:52 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: The article"
Thom_Holwerda Member since:
2005-06-29

That's why I used a Google link. Should be accessible through that, right?

Also, linking through Google does little to address the irony issue here ;) .

Reply Score: 2

RE[4]: The article
by Alfman on Tue 6th Nov 2012 17:11 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: The article"
Alfman Member since:
2011-01-28

Thom Holwerda,

"That's why I used a Google link. Should be accessible through that, right?"

Doesn't work for me. I disabled all blockers and still a no go. I tried to do the search directly from google, still not accessible.

I know what your talking about though, some news sites had a policy in place to enable one person to read the article from search engines, but when he'd send the link to others they'd have to pay.

Edit: To clarify, a paragraph excerpt is readable, but there's a link about becoming a subscriber to continue reading. Clicking that link shows a page that asks the user to become a 3 month subscriber for $22.

Edited 2012-11-06 17:27 UTC

Reply Score: 2

Google builds with supplied data.
by Beta on Mon 5th Nov 2012 13:43 UTC
Beta
Member since:
2005-07-06

Could it be that Romney fans don’t Google about gay marriage or Iran?

Reply Score: 2

Yehppael Member since:
2012-08-01

Obama fans had 4 years to google things, and for Google to make it's patterns solid.

What people don't understand about tracking, is that even if you switch to a private session, your IP remains the same.

Edited 2012-11-05 14:05 UTC

Reply Score: 3

Bill Shooter of Bul Member since:
2006-07-14

But, in most cases you don't have a unique ip address assigned to your computer. In my house, company, cafe, we NAT.

Reply Score: 1

Morgan Member since:
2005-06-29

Huh? Websites never see your internal NATed address anyway, so what does it matter? Whether you're searching from your laptop, your spouse's tablet, your cellphone via your WiFi, or any other device on your router, Google will see your single ISP-assigned IP address for all of those devices.

Also, if you stay signed into Google at home (across your devices) and at work, even though the IPs are different Google will tie them together internally and continue to analyze and link your traffic between the various locations. I've seen evidence of that first hand.

Reply Score: 5

StephenBeDoper Member since:
2005-07-06

Also, if you stay signed into Google at home (across your devices) and at work, even though the IPs are different Google will tie them together internally and continue to analyze and link your traffic between the various locations. I've seen evidence of that first hand.


That's one of things that has started to sour me on Google. I'm not a privacy paranoid, but attempts to lead me by the nose do still bother me on principle. Things like trying to get me to use something that I would normally avoid (a Google search account) by tying it to something I do use (a youtube account), and making it impossible to login to one without logging into the other.

The result is that I've ditched google search in favour of scroogle. I still trust them farther than Facebook, though - thanks to everyone's willingness to stick "like" widgets on their websites, I'd bet good money that Facebook has more personally-identifiable information about people's browsing history than Google does.

Reply Score: 3

Bill Shooter of Bul Member since:
2006-07-14

I think you're confused. The original poster was essentially saying that going into private browsing wouldn't help because your ip address doesn't change, therefore google can still identify you. My point is that when you are NATed, without any additional information, the ip address can't uniquely identify a user. So if you have 5000 users all using the same external ip address, I think you're safe from ip based tracking ( obviously being signed on to google services is another thing entirely).

Reply Score: 2

Morgan Member since:
2005-06-29

Well that was why I said "Huh?", I was hoping I misread your post. ;)

Keep in mind though, that Google not only records and analyzes your IP address and search query, they also grab your user agent string and place a cookie on your system. Combined, they can use this information to track a specific machine even inside a NAT enabled network, unless you use private browsing to block the cookies as well as a method to obfuscate or randomize your user agent string.

Reply Score: 2

zima Member since:
2005-07-06

Also, if you stay signed into Google at home (across your devices) and at work, even though the IPs are different Google will tie them together internally and continue to analyze and link your traffic between the various locations. I've seen evidence of that first hand.

Wait, as in - even when you sign out at the second location, the traffic from that IP still influencing searches?

Reply Score: 2

kwan_e Member since:
2007-02-18

Could it be that Romney fans don’t Google about gay marriage or Iran?


Maybe not in those specific terms. Romney fans are probably searching for:

1) "A group of moustachioed men who hate America and want to destroy the American way of life with their weird clothing and suspicious behaviour", and
2) "An Islamic dictatorship"

Reply Score: 3

Comment by stestagg
by stestagg on Mon 5th Nov 2012 14:49 UTC
stestagg
Member since:
2006-06-03

This is a case where market forces actually work, and we shouldn't get too het-up about this.

Google's sole job is to give me results I want to see. While it continues to do this, everything's fine. When it stops doing so, I'll find somewhere else to search.

How google do this isn't important to me, and probably 90% of people

Reply Score: 1

RE: Comment by stestagg
by bouhko on Mon 5th Nov 2012 17:13 UTC in reply to "Comment by stestagg"
bouhko Member since:
2010-06-24

Well, if you want market force to work, you need to inform people first.

As much as I agree personalization is sometimes useful (like when I'm searching for "Go", I would like to bias it towards programming), it's by pointing its downside that we are going to :
1) Have Google improve it or give more control to users
2) Get enough people interested in an alternative

Reply Score: 4

RE[2]: Comment by stestagg
by Morgan on Mon 5th Nov 2012 18:15 UTC in reply to "RE: Comment by stestagg"
Morgan Member since:
2005-06-29

Indeed, I've become extremely frustrated with Google's personalized search when I try to find something outside my sphere. It's gotten so bad that I'll open Google through a web proxy in a private session just to find what I'm looking for.

I've tried alternatives like Yahoo, Bing and DuckDuckGo but the results are even more obtuse than what I get from Google's search manipulation.

And interestingly, Bing on my phone (WP7 so it's the default search engine) gives me entirely different results than Bing on the desktop, whether I'm on the same connection or not.

Reply Score: 3

Comment by Radio
by Radio on Mon 5th Nov 2012 16:08 UTC
Radio
Member since:
2009-06-20

This TED talk should deserve a mention in the article:
http://www.ted.com/talks/eli_pariser_beware_online_filter_bubbles.h...

Reply Score: 5

In The Plex
by runjorel on Mon 5th Nov 2012 16:32 UTC
runjorel
Member since:
2009-02-09

One thing that I am sure is not going to help Google's case is that if you ever read 'In The Plex' about Google, Google has practically endorsed Obama since the last election. Former Google employees went to work for his campaign and even some White House Staffers are ex-Google employees.

Reply Score: 3

Tailored Search Sucks
by benali72 on Mon 5th Nov 2012 17:54 UTC
benali72
Member since:
2008-05-03

This is a great example of where "tailored search" has negative impact. In the U.S., politics has become highly polarized in part because people choose to read only those media outlets that already endorse their views. We need to get away from this, not reinforce it.

Reply Score: 2

RE: Tailored Search Sucks
by zima on Thu 8th Nov 2012 04:24 UTC in reply to "Tailored Search Sucks"
zima Member since:
2005-07-06

In the U.S., politics has become highly polarized in part because people choose to read only those media outlets that already endorse their views. We need to get away from this, not reinforce it.

Maybe more like illusion of such high polarisation, based mostly on non-issues while... http://www.politicalcompass.org/uselection2012

Reply Score: 2

Can Romney complain?
by JAlexoid on Mon 5th Nov 2012 19:38 UTC
JAlexoid
Member since:
2009-05-19

This is "free speech" that corporations, as people(Romney's words), are entitled to.

Reply Score: 2

If Romney or Obama wins......
by OMRebel on Mon 5th Nov 2012 19:41 UTC
OMRebel
Member since:
2005-11-14

...we still all lose. It's frustrating that a 3rd Party in the US never has a real shot (yes, I'm Libertarian).

Reply Score: 3

RE: If Romney or Obama wins......
by kwan_e on Mon 5th Nov 2012 23:19 UTC in reply to "If Romney or Obama wins......"
kwan_e Member since:
2007-02-18

...we still all lose. It's frustrating that a 3rd Party in the US never has a real shot (yes, I'm Libertarian).


That's because in a truly libertarian system, it will always evolve from many parties to just a few and then two, and then one (as many people think about the Republicans and Democrats).

It's noted that the US does have a lot more freedoms than countries in Europe. Yet it is European democracies that have a greater choice of parties.

Reply Score: 2

flypig Member since:
2005-07-13

It's noted that the US does have a lot more freedoms than countries in Europe. Yet it is European democracies that have a greater choice of parties.

I believe this is generally attributed to the electoral process. The US mostly uses a first-past-the-post system, which inevitably leads to two large parties since if there were lots of parties, you'd end up without a majority.

Many other countries use proportional representation. In this case smaller parties have more influence (since the threshold for inclusion is much lower than 50%), resulting in more electoral choice (and more coalitions).

I'm not really familiar with the US voting system though, so please correct me if I'm wrong. In the UK it's also first-past-the-post, and basically a two party system.

Sorry if you were already well aware of this. I just think it's interesting how the system has such a big influence (even before Google gets to it).

Edited 2012-11-07 17:21 UTC

Reply Score: 2

zima Member since:
2005-07-06

Makes you wonder about largish parties which push for ~"one winner per district" voting... (which is generally not how my place votes ...yet?)

Reply Score: 2

RE: If Romney or Obama wins......
by Morgan on Mon 5th Nov 2012 23:25 UTC in reply to "If Romney or Obama wins......"
Morgan Member since:
2005-06-29

I consider myself independent, but when I lean it's generally Libertarian. I had hoped that the people in this country turning voting age this year would also be independent or at least form their own well-informed opinions. However in my (admittedly limited) experience it seems new adults just side blindly with their parents or, even worse, with their peer groups. It seems individuality and free thinking are still phantom concepts, at least around here.

Then again, I live deep in the heart of Dixie so I really shouldn't be surprised.

Reply Score: 2

zima Member since:
2005-07-06

It seems individuality and free thinking are still phantom concepts

Thank you, THANK YOU for not writing here the usual ~"are becoming phantom concepts" / "old times were so much better" myth.

Reply Score: 2

World Wide Echo chamber
by StephenBeDoper on Mon 5th Nov 2012 21:58 UTC
StephenBeDoper
Member since:
2005-07-06

The confirmation bias is already one of the root psychological causes of much of the problems in the world as it is - we really shouldn't have technology companies make it worse. Technology - and more specifically, the internet - should fight this bias, not affirm it.


While I agree with that statement, I think that ship sailed some time ago. I've noticed a definite shift in the last decade or so - as more and more of the population has gone online. Previously, it was seen as a good thing that using the Internet meant encountering people from different countries, cultures, etc, who you'd be unlikely to meet in "meatspace".

But it's shifted to the point where, today, I'd say most people online see the "personalized echo chamber" aspect as a prime benefit of the internet. It shields them from the "risk" of encountering anyone whose opinions differ from theirs. And Google just happens to be at the forefront of catering to that, though Facebook seems to be catching up rapidly.

Reply Score: 4

Just thinking
by Jokel on Mon 5th Nov 2012 23:01 UTC
Jokel
Member since:
2006-06-01

Well - you know. I wonder if this is all so full of conspiracy as some people seem to suggest.

Take a step back and look at is unbiased.

I am sure over the last years there where far more search requests for Obama then there are fore Romney. And Google simply gives you search suggestions based on the most likely outcome. As there are much more subjects linked to Obama then there are on Romney, it is not that strange that the suggestions point into the direction of the highest data volume (because that is indeed the most likely outcome).

So - no conspiracy, but simply a service that is based on the most likely outcome that itself is linked to the biggest search volume (in this case Obama-related search volumes). Google wold not do a good job if you search for something, and you wont get results based on the most likely outcome.

Reply Score: 1

google, privacy, censorship
by manicboy on Sat 10th Nov 2012 17:42 UTC
manicboy
Member since:
2012-11-10

I found this page by googling 'irony "It’s good to know that your IP address helps websites guess your location' - a quote from their privacy page.

I'm really uneasy with Google's information monopoly right now - info delivery to, and info collection about, us: http://manicnotes.blogspot.com.au/2011/06/google-censorship-and-inf... It's not a good thing that one company chooses the information we have access to and so much information about us. And they have far more info on us than people realise. Even this site is running Google scripts on my PC.

I just wish there were better search engines out there... especially ones that let you think for yourself by allowing heavy Booleanising.

Reply Score: 1