Measuring the "Filter Bubble": How Google is influencing what you click

(by DuckDuckGo)

"Now, after the 2016 U.S. Presidential election and other recent elections, there is justified new interest in examining the ways people can be influenced politically online. In that context, we conducted another study to examine the state of Google's filter bubble problem in 2018."

PS: DuckDuckGo is a centralized US service, relying on Amazon

@FuckOffGoogle @stunder I do think we need to be very concerned about the level of influence big Internet players like Google and Facebook have on democracy, but I question the methodology of this study. 87 result sets is a ludicrously small sample size; you need thousands to say anything meaningful.


@stunder @FuckOffGoogle Google's indexes are not kept consistent all the time, and searches are probabilistic; if one shard takes too long, results from it can be omitted, and there are always experiments going on that can insert results you might not otherwise see. These are also treated with low priority and not even retried, so if an experimental service fails to return a result immediately, it'll also be omitted.

@FuckOffGoogle @stunder Experiments are also executed probabilistically, and Google will try to make sure the same person sees the same results consistently, even when those results aren't actually personalized to that user and they don't know who the person is. Therefore, people seeing different results is not really evidence that that information is being personalized to them, merely that it's impacted by the fact that they're a different user/browser than another person.

@stunder @FuckOffGoogle To show that results are personalized, you need to demonstrate a consistent connection between something Google presumably knows about the person and the results that Google is delivering. You also need to show ways that Google might be connecting that profile information with the user's browsing session.

Transparency on Google's part would be much better, and we should be demanding legislation to force that.

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