Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Google Businesses The Internet

Google Adds Search History Feature 278

Posted by timothy
from the film-at-11 dept.
Philipp Lenssen writes "Google has released My Search History (Beta). Login with your Google account (like your Gmail account), and a search history feature will be integrated right into the Google.com homepage. You can then retrieve pages you've previously found by either clicking on calendar dates, or by performing a full-text search. Other features are available as well."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Google Adds Search History Feature

Comments Filter:
  • by VaultX (146268) * <nnelsonNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Wednesday April 20, 2005 @06:32PM (#12297216)
    Here comes the paranoia that google is tracking EVERYONEs searches..just hiding the fact from those who don't sign up for this.
    • by Big Mark (575945) on Wednesday April 20, 2005 @06:38PM (#12297278)
      I don't mind my privacy being violated as I'm far too lazy to actually bookmark things I want to visit again.

      This is really true.
    • by anthony_dipierro (543308) on Wednesday April 20, 2005 @06:39PM (#12297291) Journal
      As was pointed out by someone else, they definitely are tracking everyone's searches. See http://www.google.com/jobs/britney.html [google.com]. "Each of these variations was entered by at least two different unique users within a three month period" You can't get that information without tracking searches and retaining the individual information over a three month period.
      • by antic (29198)

        True, but now that data will be tied to less-than-anonymous accounts. The advantage for Google is that they will have broached the concept of "having an account to use a search engine" which will enable them to do more powerful things.
        • by anthony_dipierro (543308) on Wednesday April 20, 2005 @07:00PM (#12297508) Journal

          Absolutely, I think the advantage to google is tremendous. They already target ads to people based on location, which they guess from the IP address. If they know exactly who you are they can target ads a lot better, for instance they can target ads for you based on what you've searched for in the past. If they get enough people logging in, then they've even found a partial solution for the problem of people clicking on the same ad over and over from different IP addresses.

          There are also lots of potential advantages to the end-user. Letting you access your search history is just the beginning.

          This is also extremely open to abuse if the information is kept too long and falls into the hands of the wrong people. Imagine your google searches in the hands of an oppressive government. Search for communist writings, bible quotations, or Jewish pickles, and go to jail (yes, I'm kidding about the Jewish pickles, but just think what a modern day Hitler could do with access to everyone's google searches).

        • by Fareq (688769)
          I'm giving up my right to mod this article, because your post gave me this insight:

          Amazon recently "unleashed" the A9 search. It's a "search engine with a memory" or something like that.

          It remembers what you searched for, and theoretically tailors your search results to things you've been looking for recently, and things you've bought from amazon.

          You get a 1.57% (approx. pi/2) discount on all amazon orders if you use A9 search "enough"

          I don't like using A9 -- and so only search for inane things on it,
      • Actually, you could get those stats (although with a slight margin of error) anonymously if you based them on a one way hash of the ip (or whatever is used as a unique identifier). What you can't do is verify this with a closed system. So the real question is, do you believe the the 'do no evil' google people really respect our privacy enough to do truly anonymous logging.
      • they definitely are tracking everyone's searches.

        Do you think that any other search engine out there doesn't log the search terms? If you looked at the link you posted, none of the data are tied back to any one account. So what is the big deal about Google, Yahoo or MSN logging search terms if they don't tie it to any one user? I personally don't care what Google does with my activity on Google's sites, as long as Google _never_ starts to sell that to "3rd parties" so monkeys-in-suits can start to spam

      • by Karl Tacheron (841799) on Wednesday April 20, 2005 @08:42PM (#12298325)
        See
        Add the extension .mp3 to each of those.
        You now have the filelisting for KaZaa.
    • by lgw (121541) on Wednesday April 20, 2005 @06:39PM (#12297296) Journal
      That's one of those "extra features'. The Department of Homeland Security can do text-based searches of your everyone's searches - watch for it in the next Beta version! ;)
    • by ShaniaTwain (197446) on Wednesday April 20, 2005 @06:39PM (#12297301) Homepage
      Wait.. so I can search for a search that I've searched for before?!?

      and perhaps others can search through the searches that I've searched? Will I be able to search their searches of my searches?

      whoa. my brain just exploded.
    • by That's Unpossible! (722232) * on Wednesday April 20, 2005 @06:39PM (#12297302)
      Google does track everyones searches already. However, if you turn this service on, they also track which links you click on in the search results.

      I don't see a problem with either thing since they are up-front about what they are doing and the privacy policy is clear about how they use this information.

      "Upon your first visit to Google, a cookie is sent to your computer that uniquely identifies your browser. A "cookie" is a small file containing a string of characters that is sent to your computer when you visit a website. We use cookies to improve the quality of our service and to better understand how people interact with us. Google does this by storing user preferences in cookies and by tracking user trends and patterns of how people search."
      • Also, they let you delete stuff from your history, so if you use it for say, porn, you can delete those searches.
      • by anthony_dipierro (543308) on Wednesday April 20, 2005 @06:50PM (#12297409) Journal

        However, if you turn this service on, they also track which links you click on in the search results.

        They're also then able to tie all of your IP addresses together.

        Upon your first visit to Google, a cookie is sent to your computer that uniquely identifies your browser.

        Yes, and upon my first visit to google, I told Firefox to deny the cookie and deny any further cookies from google.com. So yes, they can track my usage between different IP addresses, but I seriously doubt they're tracking all my searches throughout my entire lifetime (it's possible, but it'd be pretty hard and without getting a subpoena from my ISP it'd probably just be a best guess).

        I don't see a problem with either thing since they are up-front about what they are doing and the privacy policy is clear about how they use this information.

        Well, I see a problem with it, in that I don't want to be tracked in this way. But as long as they're upfront about it I don't think they're doing anything unethical.

        One thing they aren't upfront about is just how long they keep this data. If it's only a month or two, it's not so bad. But if they keep a record of every search that someone has done in her lifetime, I think that's pretty bad.


      • I think I've asked this a couple of times here and never got a reply.

        It appears that an index.dat file (Windows only?) retains cookie info even after the cookies are deleted. Open one up with a text editor and see what's in it. Deleting index.dat is almost impossible, so the whole point of removing cookies manually would seem to be a false, feel-good, "I'm-protecting-my-own-privacy" privacy action. I leave the Google and Slashdot cookies, but some sites want to set up to 3 or 4 (yes, I know many of these
    • Never! (Score:5, Interesting)

      by raehl (609729) <raehl311@AUDENyahoo.com minus poet> on Wednesday April 20, 2005 @06:47PM (#12297382) Homepage
      If google tracks search terms, they've been hiding it very well [google.com].
    • Who the heck didn't alredy know this?

      Google uses cookies with a unique identifier.

      A unique identifier allows you to you build a profile of the person(s) who are associated with that cookie.

      Google sells advertisements based partially on your profile. It's called "Know your audience".
    • by draxil (198788)
      Their only tracking it once you log on.
    • AFAIK, Google only logs the IP address, search query, and time/date. This helps the company track usage, patterns, and gives them a huge database of real-world search strings for testing.

      I recall hearing about this when Google first spoke up about its massive server farms and distributed storage. From what I recall, their logs are spread across all of their servers as well.

      I think it would be neat to bring up a list of all of the Google search queries requested via my IP address. It would be fun to see wh
  • By the way (Score:3, Informative)

    by KinkifyTheNation (823618) on Wednesday April 20, 2005 @06:32PM (#12297219) Journal
    And before you privacy nuts start freaking out, this isn't the start of search logging, as proven here they've been doing it [google.com] for some time.
  • by joshdick (619079) on Wednesday April 20, 2005 @06:33PM (#12297226) Homepage
    Hello, Web portal.

    They had to do it sooner or later.
  • a9 (Score:5, Informative)

    by AnonymousCowheart (646429) on Wednesday April 20, 2005 @06:33PM (#12297235) Homepage
    Hasn't a9 [a9.com] been doing this for some time?
  • by Chairboy (88841) on Wednesday April 20, 2005 @06:35PM (#12297247) Homepage
    I can think of quite a few searches I've run that I'd hate to be archived and cross-referenced against my name.

    On the plus side, this always opens the door to hilarious new 'Paris Hilton's hacked t-mobile' type tomfoolery.

    "From the i-can't-believe-its-not-butter department, Slashdot reader AnonymousCoward writes 'rofl! I haxored google history, and guess what, Linus was searching the net for patches to his Windows 2000 machine! omfgroflolololo!!!OPijsdf0+++NO CARRIER'"

    Well, that, or horse porn.
    • You can not log in, no tracking occurs whilst not logged in AND while logged in, there is a "PAUSE" button which stops any additions to your search history until you RESUME it. Nice touch.
      • there is a "PAUSE" button which stops any additions to your search history until you RESUME it.

        Reminds me of those crossing buttons they have at Traffic lights. Most of them aren't even hooked up to anything. The lights are completely computer controlled from traffic sensors.

        I've got enough placebo buttons in my life...

  • by EvilStein (414640) <spam@nospam.pbp.net> on Wednesday April 20, 2005 @06:35PM (#12297250) Homepage
    It's annoying as hell, because it tries to auto-fill your searches. It does it at the worst times, too. I was sitting down with my g/f and was Googling for something and it was happily showing a list of things that I had searched for, giving away the fact that I was looking for restaurants to visit.

    I'm just glad I wasn't Googling for "itch on my nads" or anything like that. Sheesh.
    • by Hatta (162192) on Wednesday April 20, 2005 @06:39PM (#12297304) Journal
      I was sitting down with my g/f and was Googling for something and it was happily showing a list of things that I had searched for, giving away the fact that I was looking for restaurants to visit.

      Honey, it's not what it looks like! I promise!
    • At work... (Score:2, Funny)

      by MikkoApo (854304)
      A fellow worker asked me for help. I started up the browser, went to google and managed to press "m" when the browser helpfully suggested "miss sweden nude". Well, at least I wasn't his wife :)
    • Going to the Safari preferences, selecting the "AutoFill" section, and unchecking "Other forms" should alleviate your problem.

      The Safari problem, that is. As for the other one, might I suggest something from the fine line of Gold Bond [chattem.com] products?

    • I love how Safari saves my searches. It has every search I've made since I got my computer in August. It is fun to look through and see all the variations of one search I have made, and such. Also, it is amazing how many times I can spell something wrong before Google corrects me :).

      I say it is a good feature, if you don't like it you can always turn on Privacy Mode in Safari 2.0 in Tiger.
    • s/restaurants/Asian Massage Parlors/g
  • Oh no!!! (Score:2, Redundant)

    by ErikTheRed (162431)
    Now your boss can find out which pr0n, mp3s, movies, and other stuff you've been Googling for...
  • Interesting (Score:5, Interesting)

    by That's Unpossible! (722232) * on Wednesday April 20, 2005 @06:36PM (#12297257)
    When this feature is enabled, Google adds an "onmousedown" event to the search result links which makes you hit their servers first, and then they redirect you to the page you requested. You might not even notice this is happening since you can't see in the status bar that the URL you are visiting is different. (And since they are not using any status bar text changing tricks to fool you, the Firefox settings to prevent people from changing the status bar text would have no effect, obviously.)

    I think this feature is pretty damn cool, and I have no reason not to trust Google will adhere to their privacy policy and not abuse this information. I am sure the privacy nuts (i.e. those that like to have knee-jerk reactions to anything that even hints at privacy implications ::cough michael ::cough) ought to love this.

    You can turn the tracking off easily by pressing the "pause" button in your Google History page, or by going to your google account settings and selecting "Delete History." I verified this causes the onmousedown code to disappear completely.
    • by Amadawn (43796)
      I normally trust Google, but I must admit that their 4th bullet in their My Search History Privacy FAQ is confusing to say the less. From their FAQ page:

      4. What happens when I pause the service, remove items, or delete the My Search History service?

      You can choose to stop storing your searches in My Search History either temporarily or permanently, or remove items, as described in My Search History Help. However, as is common practice in the industry, Google maintains a separate logs system for auditi

  • Not too compelling (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Ars-Fartsica (166957) on Wednesday April 20, 2005 @06:36PM (#12297261)
    Yahoo is apparently rolling out a similar type service soon...don't see much use in looking up old searches frankly. Its probably more useful for these firms to collect data for advertisers than it is for aiding in my future data retrieval.
    • don't see much use in looking up old searches frankly.

      Are you joking? This will make bookmarks irrelevant. Hell, I used Google for my bookmarks more and more anyway. It's to let google keep track of all the information and links.

      This search history thing will likely be smart enough to create your bookmarks for you, just by noticing what you search for and what results you click on.

      I think it's cool.
    • Yahoo already has a search history feature. See My Yahoo Search [yahoo.com].
  • Hmm... (Score:3, Informative)

    by thegamerformelyknown (868463) on Wednesday April 20, 2005 @06:36PM (#12297267) Homepage
    The question is not whether they store it or not, as that can be done in many ways. It's HOW. Think about it. If they store it in their Database, then they COULD use it. But, if they use cookies or the like, then they don't have it. Think about that before getting all freaked out about getting tracked.
    • But, if they use cookies or the like, then they don't have it

      Why do you make that assumption?

      If anything, a cookie makes it easier to associate an individual with an entry in the database.
    • Re:Hmm... (Score:4, Informative)

      by poot_rootbeer (188613) on Wednesday April 20, 2005 @07:09PM (#12297590)
      But, if they use cookies or the like, then they don't have it.

      Well... they're not going to use an HTTP cookie to store your entire browsing history. No, they'll use a cookie to store a unique ID token, and use that to query their big backend database of everything that everyone has searched for.

      If you activate this feature, your search history WILL be databased somewhere. It may not be easily identified as YOUR search history, but it's something to weigh if you have concerns over privacy.
  • *examines your search history*

    *retches*
  • Why have a computer?
    Just have a terminal that boots into the all new Google OS 1.0

    Isn't that what Google is shooting for anyway?
    • Actually, that's what I've been doing for the past school year. My main machine's hard drive died, but all the computer labs have some brower, some IM client, and some word processor; with Gmail for email and data storage, I don't need a personal machine.
  • Attila the Hun... Thomas Edison... Hoover Dam... Aha! Jenna Jameson!
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 20, 2005 @06:39PM (#12297299)
    Clear history.

    "Eh, honey, you see, my friend started this band named 'hot asian sluts,' so I was looking for their Web page."

    "Every day for three months??"

    "Um, yes. Sometimes well into that night. (Cough.)"
  • Spiffy (Score:3, Insightful)

    by imag0 (605684) on Wednesday April 20, 2005 @06:42PM (#12297331) Homepage
    Ok, privacy concerns aside, that's a pretty spiffy thing to have. I've wracked my brain for old searches and old sites for technical data, bits of code, and so on and came up short a lot of the time. (who hasn't surfed to Google, typed in one letter and scrolled down the list looking for something you've typed in before?)

    Hell, i've written my own browser cache downloader for Safari and Mozilla (with snazzy search engine and all the trimmings) just to keep all the places i've been to current. Remembering all the places i've been to using Google helps a lot.

    Keep it lean and popup free, Google, and I will use it every day.
  • Cute (Score:4, Interesting)

    by M3wThr33 (310489) on Wednesday April 20, 2005 @06:46PM (#12297376) Homepage
    I find this funny because I've been using A9 for the longest time and it already does this. I wonder how many other features they'll borrow from A9?
    • It's not like "search history" is a complicated concept, on the order of "one click ordering" - you don't exactly have to be a genius to come up with that one.
    • Re:Cute (Score:3, Funny)

      by tyler_larson (558763)
      I find this funny because I've been using A9 for the longest time and it already does this. I wonder how many other features they'll borrow from A9?

      Thieves! Scoundrels!

      I did some extra research, and it turns out that they stole the search engine idea from Alta Vista, the GMail idea from Hotmail, and the whole Internet idea from Al Gore.

      Can't they do anything original?

    • There's plenty of other people doing search history. My Yahoo Search [yahoo.com], My Ask Jeeves [ask.com], and Findory [findory.com], to name a few.

      [Disclaimer: I work at Findory]
  • by rsteele19 (150541) on Wednesday April 20, 2005 @06:50PM (#12297408) Homepage
    So you can search for previous searches, but does it keep a history of your searches for previous searches? Can you search for previous searches for previous searches?
  • despite the paranoia that will undoubtably be associated with this, i much like the ability to go back and find not only a search result set, but also the particular link i clicked. it makes re-discovering information much easier

    note to self: no more porn searches :(
  • by natrius (642724) * <[gro.narin] [ta] [narin]> on Wednesday April 20, 2005 @06:54PM (#12297438) Homepage
    If you don't want to be tracked on the Internet, there's a simple solution: don't have a static IP address and turn off cookies.

    With that said, if you think this feature is a privacy issue, you should probably have your web browser history and cache disabled. I can't wait for a virus that emails the victim's history and cache to everyone in their address book. Hilarity would definitely ensue.
    • If you don't want to be tracked on the Internet, there's a simple solution: don't have a static IP address and turn off cookies.

      On some cable providers, changing one's IP address is a pain in the ass since it requires changing your NIC's MAC address and rebooting the cable modem each time.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    "Don't panic"

    "They are upfront...read their privacy policy"

    "They have been logging all searches for ages therefore it's ok"

    Listen. Most people don't read privacy policies, so remain blissfully unaware but what they are doing when they use Google. Most people don't even think about cookies, many more don't even know or care what they are. You could argue therefore that by inference they don't value or care about their own privacy. Well, hell maybe they don't. But actually that argument alone is not good e
  • by rjelks (635588) on Wednesday April 20, 2005 @06:56PM (#12297461) Homepage
    While the privacy issues were the first thing on my mind, something else occurs to me now. If Google is keeping track of search histories, aren't personalized searches the next step. If Google can tell what type of sites you like to use, couldn't they lean the search one way or the other?

    This will drive the seo guys crazy.
  • slashgoogle? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by diegocgteleline.es (653730) on Wednesday April 20, 2005 @07:06PM (#12297554)
    Someone should start it. Seriously, google seems to produce new things every two days or so.
  • Hmm.. (Score:4, Funny)

    by StikyPad (445176) on Wednesday April 20, 2005 @07:16PM (#12297646) Homepage
    Just another piece of information to be subpoenaed.

    Lawyer: "Ladies and gentlemen of the supposed jury, according to Google's records, the defendant clearly searched for 'download Briteney MP3,' which makes him guilty not only of attempted copyright infringement (punishible by up to three years in prison), but stupidity in the first and second degree, and one count of poor spelling."

    Jury: "We find the defendant, Mr. John Dumas, guilty as charged."

    Defendant: "It's pronounced Doo-maas!"

    Judge: "Sentenced to time served closing popups."
  • Google What? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by StikyPad (445176) on Wednesday April 20, 2005 @07:19PM (#12297671) Homepage
    Am I the only one who saw Google Adds and thought, "typo..."
  • search calendar, (Score:3, Insightful)

    by soupdevil (587476) on Wednesday April 20, 2005 @07:30PM (#12297789)
    but this is not the google calendar we were looking for. Come on, Google -- you know everything else about me -- my shopping habits, my personal emails, what I search for at 3am, don't you want my daily scheduling info as well?
  • by Beautyon (214567) on Wednesday April 20, 2005 @07:45PM (#12297907) Homepage
    Hmmm can I import all the old searches that Google has stored against my cookie?

    If not, why not?
    • Hmmm can I import all the old searches that Google has stored against my cookie? If not, why not?

      No, because there's no way to prove that you're the owner of said cookie.

      Actually, it might be kind of neat to look at the search history of random people in a relatively anonymous kind of way. That would be a cool service.

  • uh oh (Score:2, Funny)

    by Craig_P92669 (875776)
    olsen twins nude
    angelina jolie nude
    Natalie Portman nude
    Bill Gates nu....oh wait
  • Just yesterday, I was ready the Ask Slashdot question about which applications or services was best for managing bookmarks.

    Lots of peoples told the guy to just do the searches again on google or that it would be cool if a browser could cache all your searches or things like that.

    I just tried it, it is way cool. You can selectively delete entries you do not want to keep, keep the one you want to and search them. I did not read or found how the information is stored but I hope that it reside on their se
  • by RotJ (771744) on Wednesday April 20, 2005 @11:43PM (#12299474) Journal
    GDS keeps track of your Internet history, so you can actually search (and view) the cached contents (from multiple dates) of the sites you've visited with Firefox or IE. I only use GDS for this function, as I'm organized enough to know where I've put specific files on my HD. I don't use AIM or email much either. It also only searches the first 5000 words of a textfile, so it's useless for my IRC logs as well.

    Google Search history keeps track of which pages you've visited through Google, but Google Desktop Search keeps track of every page you visit.

    As a sidenote, I discovered that GDS merely takes a system screenshot [onlinehome.us] to generate its website thumbnails.

Saliva causes cancer, but only if swallowed in small amounts over a long period of time. -- George Carlin

Working...