Join 3,440 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Rewriting history
April 25, 2007 6:03 PM   Subscribe

"Web History helps deliver more personalized search results based on what you've searched for on Google and which sites you've visited." Google unveils Web History, a new feature to help you "view and manage your web activity." You can also get an idea of what sites you visit frequently, broken down by time of day, and search across the full text of pages you've visited. "If you remember seeing something online, you'll be able to find it faster and from any computer with Web History. " What could possibly go wrong?
posted by jbickers (26 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
Sounds like a subpoena magnet.
posted by delmoi at 6:11 PM on April 25, 2007


You can easily opt out of it.

Remove > Clear entire web history

Or Pause the whole thing.

Did people really not think they weren't keeping this information anyway?

Or just always clear cookies and don't use Gmail, etc.
posted by ao4047 at 6:14 PM on April 25, 2007


Did people really not think they weren't keeping this information anyway?

By and large, that's probably right.
posted by jbickers at 6:16 PM on April 25, 2007


I don't get it. MetaFilter is my web history.
posted by phaedon at 6:16 PM on April 25, 2007 [1 favorite]


Did people really not think they weren't keeping this information anyway?

The might be keeping it, but they weren't recording every site you visit, even the ones you don't find through searching Google.
posted by delmoi at 6:18 PM on April 25, 2007


As long as nobody finds out I'm a regular viewer of HerFirstAssToMouth, I'm cool.
posted by Joey Michaels at 6:20 PM on April 25, 2007


Aw, rats.
posted by Joey Michaels at 6:20 PM on April 25, 2007 [1 favorite]


So you've got to have Google's toolbar installed to track anything but searches, and you've got to be signed in to even track that.

Right?
posted by mr_crash_davis at 6:21 PM on April 25, 2007


They probably already have sophisticated algorithms to try and associate you with a Google account even if you're not signed in or cookied, just from pages that carry Google ads... if you' re using such and such a browser, coming from such and such an IP range and you visit pages W, X, Y and Z in a 30 minute session, there's a nn% chance that you're this or that person.
posted by fleetmouse at 6:23 PM on April 25, 2007


5:00 PM - Jordan Capri
5:05 PM - "Jordan Capri" Twister
5:16 PM - "Tawnee Stone" Weights
5:24 PM - "Alison Angel"
5:26 PM - "Alison Angel" Mercedes
5:28 PM - "Alison Angel" Mercedes Sedan
5:40 PM - "Sex Addiction"
5:45 PM - "Mercedes S-Class"
6:20 PM - HerFirstAssToMouth
posted by The Confessor at 6:34 PM on April 25, 2007


Tell me, how are 'opt-in' and 'bigbrother' related?
posted by peacay at 6:34 PM on April 25, 2007


my god... does ANYONE (in the US of Amerika anyway) really believe that they are not being tracked online?

If you have any concern that someone is watching you surf those bad sites, you best just sell that computer right now.
posted by HuronBob at 6:35 PM on April 25, 2007


Google may know my past search history but The Confessor has just revealed to me the future of my Google search history.
posted by lekvar at 6:40 PM on April 25, 2007 [2 favorites]


Did people really not think they weren't keeping this information anyway?

That doesn't make my head not hurt.
posted by thinman at 6:42 PM on April 25, 2007 [3 favorites]


Wow. Somehow, despite all of the advances in technology, Google has found a way to deliver porn that much more efficiently to the households of America.
posted by Ironmouth at 6:52 PM on April 25, 2007


Uh, my search history has been paused since June 20th, 2005. This isn't new - or is it the toolbar thingy that is new?
posted by jikel_morten at 7:10 PM on April 25, 2007


in the US of Amerika anyway

It's "AmeriKKKa," dude, not "Amerika."

7:30pm: "How to talk to girls"
8:02pm: hot bars + Brooklyn
8:17pm: directions + Union Hall

2:34am: big breasted sluts
2:36am: pillowcase + "dry cleaners"
2:46am: god + loneliness + why
posted by Falconetti at 7:15 PM on April 25, 2007 [8 favorites]


Huh huh, porn...
posted by Tube at 7:16 PM on April 25, 2007


11:02 brittany spears
11:02 brittney spears
11:02 britany spears
11:03 britny spears
11:03 briteny spears
11:03 britteny spears
11:03 briney spears
11:03 brittny spears
11:03 britney spears
...
posted by mattoxic at 7:28 PM on April 25, 2007


Here's the deal:

A) For google to track pages, you have to 1) Have the google toolbar 2) sign in and 2) turn on page rank. Turning on pagerank brings up a giant warning about how it will send every page you have to da Google. It even says the equivalent of "Hey, look at this! This isn't the usual fine print!" I believe they may use red text to emphasize this. No klaxons though.

B) For it to track your searches, you have to log in through a google account. The main problem with this is, if you use gmail, and don't log out, you've logged in.

C) If you use google and don't use tor or some other anonymizing proxy, you are already screwed. They track by IP address.

D) Turning on google web history merely shows you what they have been recording all along.

Here's a post by Matt Cutts, one of the most public faces of Google, about privacy concerns and google handles them.

Frankly, I'd trust google more than my ISP. If you trust neither, than it would be good to use Tor all the time, and encrypt ever damn thing you send through the line. And not log in to google for anything, ever.
posted by zabuni at 7:49 PM on April 25, 2007 [2 favorites]


For a partial alternative, out of curiosity: Isn't there a Firefox extension that indexes what you browse, so you can search your history based on full text, not just the URL? (Or should I make this an AskMe?)
posted by Pronoiac at 12:56 AM on April 26, 2007


The might be keeping it, but they weren't recording every site you visit, even the ones you don't find through searching Google.

Actually, they always have - the Google Toolbar installation screen makes this explicit. That's surely what the toolbar is for, from Google's point-of-view.

It's becoming more and more obvious that every single one of Google's services is intended to hoard data and feed it back to the search engine (and, more importantly, ad engine). They give you ever-more stuff in exchange for your valuable data. It's like the world's biggest supermarket loyalty card scheme.
posted by reklaw at 2:13 AM on April 26, 2007


Well it's official, I will be going to prison.
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 5:07 AM on April 26, 2007 [1 favorite]


yeah, i've been using this recently. it *is* creepy. but then, i'm starting to come to the conclusion that the forced transparency of our world is something i don't care that much about. cameras have replaced the nosy old lady on her front porch. and i don't care that much if the ubiquitous "they" knows that i read about everything from Sheryl Crow's weak joke about toilet paper to the e-choupal movement in India to an occasional peak at Al-Jazeera. what the fuck ever.

if the world gets so bad that these interests become something someone in some agency is getting paid to care about, then i'm already in prison, no? and will i be marketed to in a way that will piss me off? sure. i already live there.

i think i'd rather take the position of Utah Phillips: when talking about how the FBI was opening his mail, he said, "they might as well read about that stuff somewhere."

besides, when there are cameras everywhere and every search by every person is being recorded, exactly how is any agency going to have the time and resources to find the "real" criminals, anyway?
posted by RedEmma at 9:55 AM on April 26, 2007


but then, i'm starting to come to the conclusion that the forced transparency of our world is something i don't care that much about. cameras have replaced the nosy old lady on her front porch. and i don't care that much if the ubiquitous "they" knows that i read ...

Google's "informal" motto is "Don't Be Evil." I know I, for one, trust them at their word.

"But it was all right, everything was all right, the struggle was finished. He had won the victory over himself. He loved Big Brother."
posted by tempestuoso at 10:19 AM on April 26, 2007


oh, i so do.

no, it's that i have a presumption that these things are already going on in the worst way. that 90 percent of FBI files are wasted on people like me who are no danger to anyone at all. the insanity of the way this world works makes me rather a fatalist in that those most for peace are those who will be criminalized. that those who are simply curious will end up in jail for checking out the wrong book.

so, if this is the way the wind is blowing, i might as well be as transparent as possible. call it whistling through the graveyard.
posted by RedEmma at 7:39 PM on April 27, 2007


« Older "If you can save one life - change two people's mi...  |  Back in the mid-nineties, befo... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments