Your News, My News – Do We Get the Same Views?

screen-shot-2016-12-07-at-10-24-28-amAccording to a video shared by the DuckDuckGo website, when we  search for information on Google each of us can get slightly different, or sometimes enormously different results – even if we use the exact search terms in the exact order and at about the same time. DuckDuckGo, a search engine that emphasizes privacy, is a Google competitor.

The order of Google’s results may guided by what it knows about the individual who is doing the search. (Check out Ghostery to identify trackers on any or all of your pages.)

Collected information – including any previous searches, where we live, what we read, where we get our news, what we purchase, how much we travel, and much more can affect what we see in the results. I never thought about this much, but I do remember how a few years ago a group of my middle school students were searching on Google for information, and I noticed and was puzzled that similar searches sometimes generated lists of slightly different results.

Examples of different results.

Examples of different results.

Take a few minutes to watch There Are No Regular Results on Google Anymore, a video from DuckDuckGo, to learn more about that company’s perspective on search results.

Unfortunately personalized search results reinforce the political, demographic, and geographic bubbles where we live rather and many people are not exposed to credible sources, accurate news, or differing opinions. Results that the search engine “thinks” we are less inclined to read can appear lower in the list, sometimes even on a second page, where we might not get to them.

At a time when people with different opinions have difficulty communicating with one another and many individuals are growing more concerned about how they live in bubbles that shield them from differing opinions, everyone needs the most credible media sources appearing first in any search. The DuckDuckGo search engine believes it pays more attention to reliability.

Given the wide-ranging connected world opportunities that Google has created, perhaps it can focus even more on reliable news information and media literacy?

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