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‘More Details’ Provided on How User Data Refines Google Search

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Having added a (much-publicized) privacy link to its homepage in early July, Google again demonstrates its stalwart commitment to transparency: the company has added a “More Details” link to its Web Search feature.

According to the Google Blog, “More Details” explains how a person’s data is used to improve search results.

For example, a person living in San Francisco can run a search for a national business. In the upper right-hand corner of his results, he may see, “Customized for San Francisco metro area, US. More details.” The latter is a hyperlink that, when visited, explains how the user’s data — including IP address, recent searches and web history — helps refine searches:

Users have the option to delete their search history if they wish. (In June it was revealed that Google occasionally uses search history to serve search ads.)

Search Engine Journal points out that the addition of “More Details” makes Google’s privacy policy more transparent. But even as it champions transparency with regard to how it uses consumer data, Google continues to sidestep direct questions about its search algorithm — a largely-secret calculation for determining the search relevance of a website.

The company recently released Knol, a Wikipedia rival whose user-created “knowledge” pages already rank well in search results. Observers to this phenomenon wondered whether serving 70 percent of US searches, and hosting indexable content, was a conflict of interest.

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