DuckDuckGo examines Google's influence over search results

Shawn Knight

Posts: 12,511   +122
Staff member

DuckDuckGo, makers of the privacy-minded search engine by the same name, has conducted a follow-up study on the state of Google’s filter bubble.

A filter bubble, for those unaware, is the alleged manipulation of search results based on your personal data such as past search history, your location, browsing history and even purchase history. The idea is that these metrics can be used to create personalized search results based on what a given algorithm thinks you might be most likely to click on.

The problem, of course, is that sometimes, personalized recommendations aren’t wanted. Sometimes, you want to be able to access unbiased information or gather details on a topic you aren’t well versed in. Personalized search results can skew such research.

The logical step for someone wishing to get unbiased search results (assuming they are even aware of filter bubbles) would be to remove themselves from the filter bubble. With regard to Google, one would seemingly do this by logging out of their Google account and entering private browsing mode. Yet in a recent study from DuckDuckGo, these steps proved ineffective in offering filter bubble protection.

DuckDuckGo had 87 participants across the US search Google at the same time, logged out and in private browsing mode. You’d think their results would be similar but that wasn’t the case.

According to DuckDuckGo, most people saw results unique to them when searching for terms like “gun control” and “vaccinations.” Furthermore, Google included links for some users that it did not include for others and there was significant variation in the News and Videos infoboxes.

The order of links also varied. This is important to note because links that are presented first are much more likely to be clicked versus those further down the page, thus influencing reach.

Full details on the study are available for those interested in digging deeper.

Lead image via Benny Thaibert, Shutterstock

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Posts: 1,942   +1,724
TechSpot Elite
Oh, the filter bubble is real. But it's more of a question of to what extent?

I generally get around curated results by being specific when I can (if needed), so I still use Google (as it still the "best" search engine to use for basic searches).


Posts: 46   +7
As with Lew Zealand I use both DDG and Google, along with Bing, but I hardly ever pick the first few results, unless the others are unsatisfactory, to avoid the paid-for links.
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Reactions: Danny101


Posts: 737   +562
I'm sorry but... boo hoo.

Google! Stop giving me relevant links I'm more inclined to click on and is much more likely to be things I was actually searching for! I wanted a random mess of links like other search engines! I'm sure this isn't the very reason for your success as a business!


Posts: 347   +98
I have been using DDG for a long time. I like it but now I am confused. Guess that I will have to wait until DDG gets their act together and gives us an answer.


Posts: 12,467   +5,844
I use DDG as my default search pretty much everywhere but on occasion it doesn't return the answer to a tech problem I'm searching and Google simply does. I need both.
Let me borrow your text and change one word to better match my browsing habits.

I use Bing as my default search pretty much everywhere but on occasion it doesn't return the answer to a tech problem I'm searching and Google simply does. I need both.