Data Breaches

DuckDuckGo study claims Google Incognito searches are not private

Google offers customized search results even in Incognito Mode, study.

DuckDuckGo claims that Google’s search results aren’t just based on your location data and previous searches normally but also when you are logged out or browsing in incognito mode.

It’s a fact that offering personalized and customized search results have been a hallmark of Google. However, sometimes, the user may just want to surf discreetly, without ever leaving a trail, which is why there’s an option of Incognito Mode. Apparently, the bubble has been burst for us, the users, as the new study from DuckDuckGo, Google’s anti-tracking rival, claims otherwise.

The study involved participation from people across the US. The participants searched for a term when they were logged out or using the Incognito mode and according to DuckDuckGo, the results weren’t similar as they were expecting them to be. Every user received a different result.

DuckDuckGo study claims Google Incognito searches are not private

Moreover, the order of the links also varied both for the video infoboxes and the news categories on Google, which is why some users received the links while some didn’t. This is a concerning aspect because generally, incognito results must remain similar for everyone. This means, logging out from Google or using the incognito mode doesn’t affect the search results at all.

DuckDuckGo study claims Google Incognito searches are not private

“This finding demonstrates that Google tailors search results regardless of browsing mode. People should not be lulled into a false sense of security that so-called “incognito” mode makes them anonymous,” writes DuckDuckGo.

DuckDuckGo study claims Google Incognito searches are not private

However, Google has an entirely different perspective on this issue as the company claims that the study results are unreliable because of faulty research practices.

“This study’s methodology and conclusions are flawed [and] based on the assumption that any difference in the search results are based on personalization. That is simply not true.”

Google also adds that a number of factors can lead to presenting different results such as time and location. Such factors haven’t been given their due consideration by DuckDuckGo, claims Google. Google also explained the reason why the search results were different for different users in a series of tweets which are available here.

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