Pew Report: 65% View Personalized Search As Bad; 73% See It As Privacy Invasion

Mar 9, 2012 at 10:00am ET by 

Personalized search? Both Google and Bing will tell you that it provides better results. But two-thirds say they don’t care. They view personalized search as a “bad thing,” a new survey finds. Nearly three-quarters also view gathering data to personalize results to be a privacy invasion.

The findings come out of a survey from the Pew Internet & American Life Project. Around 2,000 adults in the US were questioned between January 20 and February 19 of this year as part of a wide-ranging poll about search engine use, though fewer may have answered particular questions.

Personalized Search: A Bad Thing

People were asked how they’d feel if a search engine tracked what they searched for, then used that information to personalize their future search results:

Rather than a straight yes/no option, the choices gave some context. From the chart above about views on personalized search:

  • 65% said it was a “bad thing” since, as the response said, “it may limit the information you get online and what search results you see”
  • 29% said it was a “good thing” because “it gives you results that are more relevant you.”

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