Commentary

Hidden Searches And From Whom

Some 64% of adults have searched for something they would like to keep private, with men and younger adults more likely to become secretive about their searches. People might hide searches from others, but engines keep track. I'm really not sure how secretive queries can be when engines rely on historic searches, among other signals, to serve-up paid-search ads.

Nonetheless, findings from an Ask.com Online Consumer Search Habits study conducted by Harris Interactive from Sept. 4 through 6 reveal that 42% want to hide search content from adult family members. Of the 2,022 U.S. adults participating in the online study about searches on desktop and mobile devices, 35% said they want to hide content from their significant other and friends, and 30% from their children.

Some 78% of those ages 18-34 are more likely than the 59% of those ages 35 and older to admit to keeping searches a secret. Men -- at 67% -- are more likely than women, at 60%, to search for something they wish to keep private.

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A significant portion of adults also conduct Web searches in private places during unorthodox moments, such as 28% on the toilet, 15% while keeping an eye on the kids, and 11% while behind the wheel of a car.

Almost a quarter of adults, ages 18 to 34, have searched for information about an ex-boyfriend or ex-girlfriend. A bit more than a third of respondents said they searched for information on medical conditions they want to keep private, followed by one-quarter who want to keep searches for sexual content to themselves.

Regardless of companies monitoring employee activity online, more than one in ten Americans look for another job while at their place of work. Some 36% also search for items they want to purchase, 28% seek out travel accommodations and destinations, 15% conduct real estate searches, 14% look for celebrity news, and 13% search for videos.

One in 10 respondents said they have -- or nearly had -- an accident such as falling down stairs or missing a step or curb, as a result of not paying attention while conducting a Web search on a smartphone or mobile device.

"Businessman holding tablet in front of his face" photo from Shutterstock.

1 comment about "Hidden Searches And From Whom".
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  1. Mark F Simmons from Mixed Digital - #SmartData Consulting, October 18, 2013 at 8:14 a.m.

    It's definitely spying and has been happening since the advent of Search. That said, the data does have it's uses. To advertisers looking to target more than the general consumer public. I fear it's a debate that will last a long time.

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