Web users are getting anxious about their personal data being collected by search engines for targeted advertising, according to a recent report released by the Pew Internet.
The Pew Internet & American Life survey showed that 65 percent of Internet users feel that it’s a bad thing if a search engine is collecting information about their searches and then using it to rank future search results, as it would limit information users get online and what search results they see.
73 percent of the respondents said that they would not be OK with a search engine keeping track of searches and personalizing future search results, as it would be an invasion of their privacy.
Only 29% of those surveyed said that it’s a good thing that search engines collect information about the searches and use it to rank future search results, because it gives users results that are more relevant to them, while 23% said that they are Ok with search engines keeping track of their searches and using that information to personalize their future search results, even if it means they are gathering information about them.
Most of the users are not aware of the ways they can limit the information that websites gather about them. Only 38% of Internet users said that they knew of things they could do to limit personal information. Among this group, one common strategy people used to limit personal data collection was to delete their web history.
Despite these concerns about online privacy, the Pew research found that users’ overall views of search engine performance is positive. Use of search engine is still one of the most popular online activities, rivaled only by email. Users expressed high levels of confidence in the capabilities of search engines, with 91% stating that they always or most of the time find the information they are seeking, and 73% stating that most or all the information they find using search engines is accurate and trustworthy.
As expected, Google topped the list of most popular search engines, with 83 percent of stating that they used Google to carry out most of their searches.