Some question Google's 'rookie mistakes' with SearchWiki

Tool for customizing on search results lacks opt-out option and raises privacy concerns

"So, now the whole world will see that 'dweinberger' not only searched for ' Angelina Jolie' but thumbs-upped the page of closeups of her tattoos?" he added. "Guess who just changed his nickname to something less identifiable! This is a feature without value? -- the list of names isn't clickable or complete [and it does not] tell you how many people voted it up - unless you recognize someone's nickname, in which case it has negative value."

Michael Zimmer, an assistant professor in the School of Information Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, added that Google has long pointed out that it tracks, collects and processes what users search for and click on to improve the quality of search results.

"With SearchWiki, Google can now amass an even larger data set of user behavior, including how particular users rank certain results, what results they don't find relevant, and even what results should be there that Google's spider hasn't yet discovered," he noted. "In short, users are now performing much of the crawling, indexing, and ranking functions that Google has previously stated was done to near perfection through its algorithms. And what do users get in return for providing this labor to Google? Better results, perhaps. But also some serious privacy concerns."

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Heather Havenstein

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