Google has refuted DuckDuckGo’s recent study which claims that Google’s personalized search results create a “filter bubble.”
After we covered the results of DuckDuckGo’s study, a Google spokesperson reached out with the following statement:
“This study’s methodology and conclusions are flawed since they are based on the assumption that any difference in search results are based on personalization. That is simply not true. In fact, there are a number of factors that can lead to slight differences, including time and location, which this study doesn’t appear to have controlled for effectively.”
Google’s Danny Sullivan, via the @searchliason Twitter account, provided additional context without referencing the study directly.
I will paraphrase Sullivan’s Twitter thread below.
The idea that different people might get significantly different search results is a “myth,” Sullivan says.
Search results can differ, however, but usually for non-personalized reasons such as location, language settings, platform, and the dynamic nature of search.
Time is also a factor, as searches performed even a few minutes apart may return different results.
New and updated material is added to Google’s search engine frequently, especially in the “Top Stories” section which can change significantly in a short period of time.
Google does personalize search results, though Sullivan says it only happens lightly and does not dramatically change from one person to another.
Sullivan clarifies that Google does not personalize search results based on demographic profiles.
Those who wish to disable personalization in search results can do so using the Web & App Activity settings in their Google account.