Pretty much everyone is terrified of what will happen if their Google searches are revealed to the world.
The predominant search engine is known for its intuition, an attribute that lurks in our minds and nags every so often- like when Facebook pushes the people you stalk up in your friends’ lists above the people with whom you interact or creep on very rarely. I think we all know deep down that if Google goes ahead and uses the loose dossier it’s collected on us over the years, we’re pretty much personally, professionally and politically screwed.
So it might interest you to know that Google has a nifty little tool called Google Correlate that aggregates this data in a broader way. It’s no reason for alarm, probably in the same way a set of filthy in the hands of a not-quite-angry ex is not cause for alarm. NPR explored the functions of Google Correlate, and the way it spies on us is, if not scary, a bit comprehensive.
For instance, Google Correlate seems to confirm some basic social assumptions- like if you’re buying organic, free-range eggs from a chicken named Colin, you’re unlikely to be conservative. NPR explains:
There’s a sociologist that I spoke with at the University of North Carolina. His name is Phil Cohen. And what he did is he said can we apply this tool to politics. And so he said let me search for prominent, liberal and conservative commentators – people like Rachel Maddow and Stephen Colbert, or Rush Limbaugh.
The site adds:
So let me play you a little bit of what Phil Cohen told me in terms of what the liberals who are searching for Rachel Maddow are also searching for, in terms of their food… On the liberal list are arugula pasta, beets nutrition, beets urine, fake meat, fennel salad, firm tofu, a variety of vegetarian cooking, vegetarian recipes. Something like a Republican stereotype of what a liberal food diet might be.
You can read the full piece here– does it worry you every so often that Google knows a bit more about you than you might like?