Hakia.com has sponsored the Search for Better Search website, which so far looks rather thin, though it does have some interested poll responses. Among them: 62% don’t trust search engines with their private information.
That should probably read something more like “I don’t want search engines to have my private information, but really, Google could steal my identity at any moment because I’ve already surrendered all my private information to AdSense.” Unfortunately, the poll’s sample size is rather small (298 respondents so far).
Hakia’s influence on the page seems to show through, as well. An older poll, with almost 700 respondents, asks, “What do you think a search engine should do?” The top two answers by quite a margin are “Understand my question the way a human does 38% (262 votes)” and “Bring highly relevant results with semantic precision 26% (179 votes).”
Hm… Hakia, a natural language search engine sponsors a survey that finds that more than a third of users want search engines to understand like a human?
Another poll on the page, with 245 respondents thus far, asks “What is the single most important issue search engines can address to win users’ trust?” Only the top two responses: “Give users access to and editing permission over the data they keep. 19% (47 votes)” (hurray for AskEraser!) and “Don’t ever store user information. 29% (72 votes).”
There’s one really, really, really simple way to make sure search engines don’t ever store your information. Stop using them. Now. Completely.
Do search engines have their users over a barrel? Perhaps. Search engines have become the default way to navigate the Internet. But, as I’ve said before, “I think it’s unreasonable to expect any interactive software company not to collect information about its users in an effort to improve the end user experience.”
Perhaps that old economics saying should be changed to “There’s no such thing as a free search.”