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Google Web History

Mrrix32 [PersonRank 10]

Thursday, April 19, 2007
12 years ago12,145 views

Google seems to want to know everything you do; what you search for, what adverts you click on even what music you listen to on your PC. Now they want to know what sites you visit not necessary from a search.

google.com/history/welcome

It seems to be a toolbar based version of what Google Desktop does anyway!

<<Web History relies on your Toolbar's PageRank feature to send information about the web pages you visit to Google. This information is then associated with your Google Account.>>

Tony Ruscoe [PersonRank 10]

12 years ago #

This is just a revamp of Search History (which was previously called Personalized Search) and even uses the same service name. I guess they've changed its name because it's not just your *search* history they're recording now.

I'm seeing this link in my Web History pages:

<< Your web history is limited to searches. Expand your web history. >>

If you accept, it tries to install a new Firefox extension. At least they give you the choice – for now...

Mambo [PersonRank 10]

12 years ago #

<< If you accept, it tries to install a new Firefox extension >>

This is REALLY, REALLY scary. I clicked on "enable web history", and it's watching absolutely EVERYTHING I look at. The best of it is, it hasn't installed anything onto Firefox, and I don't even have Google Toolbar. The only thing I have is Browser Sync, which is only syncing bookmarks.

What the hell is going on? How does it know that I'm visiting those sites?

Sam Davyson [PersonRank 10]

12 years ago #

It is "just a revamp" – but it is a good one. I like the new layout etc. As for some of the new ideas like letting Google see every page you ever visit... I am not up for that just yet --> I don't use Firefox/IE so I can't but if I did – I wouldn't.

Ben Allen [PersonRank 10]

12 years ago #

It just showed up for me.

Prashanth [PersonRank 2]

12 years ago #

It will be enabled if the toolbar is installed and pagerank is enabled.

This is a very scary feature in terms that all the websites I visit are stored online. Dammit, I used to clear the browser history after opening sensitive urls now I need to clear the Google history too.

Pau Tomàs [PersonRank 10]

12 years ago #

It's official now: googleblog.blogspot.com/2007/0 ...

Mambo [PersonRank 10]

12 years ago #

I've just realised how it's tracking my sites when i don't have Google Toolbar. I have a Live PageRank extension. So, FYI, this will also enable tracking with Web History.

pri [PersonRank 5]

12 years ago #

so this feature lets you keep track of all the sites you search, right? doesn't google desktop already do that for me? the only difference is that now its stored online instead of on my computer.

pacificdave [PersonRank 10]

12 years ago #

"so this feature lets you keep track of all the sites you search, right?"

Well, this new feature now lets you view your web pages visited (web history) through Google Search History online too. I can't wait to hear all the privacy complaints from users. I personally don't mind. It's very convenient, I trust Google (and only Google), and I have nothing to hide.

Haochi [PersonRank 10]

12 years ago #

I think Google is trying to say, "We are slicing your web".
googleblog.blogspot.com/2007/0 ...

Huge privacy concern... Ayy, I have to stop using Web History. :(

/pd [PersonRank 10]

12 years ago #

actaully, I prefer that google tracks everything I do on the web. In case, any thing happens to me, then my next of kin can at least ask google to release my trends status and that may give clues to my folks/pals to at least know more about me ..

anyhoot its just my thoughts!!

Colin Colehour [PersonRank 10]

12 years ago #

This feature will probably help them create a better StumbleUpon service with their Toolbar random button.

Inferno [PersonRank 10]

12 years ago #

I always trusted them. But from now on...... I have to trust them more.

Prasanna Narayanan [PersonRank 1]

12 years ago #

This would be not limited to pages which has been browsed by using search. Then this would be a direct competitor to the Attention Recorder Plugin provided by Attention Trust. Well, I Agree with Inferno, Trust More!

Colin Colehour [PersonRank 10]

12 years ago #

Hey Philipp, can you run another test to see if this new Web History feature will also help the googlebot crawl new unknown pages. Several months ago you did something similar to see if the Google Toolbar would actually send URLs to Google for them to crawl.

Colin Colehour [PersonRank 10]

12 years ago #

Looks like Google forgot to rename "Personalized Search" to "Web History" on the Google Labs page.

labs.google.com/

JM [PersonRank 1]

12 years ago #

I finding a weird habit that my web search history has...a few keywords are searched for in the background. The three terms show up in my history as though I have actually typed them, but no results page appears...it just seems as though they are running perpetually "behind the scenes". I do not know how to address this or shut it off. Has anyone else experienced this "phantom" search behavior?

jk [PersonRank 1]

12 years ago #

I don't think it's that bad a concern.... u can choose to activate it + they know a lot about you anyways.... and they make money with ads, not with selling informations, why should they give them out anyways? although if someone knows your password, u are screwed:) that's true

Philipp Lenssen [PersonRank 10]

12 years ago #

> why should they give them out anyways

There's also the problem of potential security vulnerabilities.

Plus, the government can subpoeana for information, and then Google sometimes gives it.

TOMHTML [PersonRank 10]

12 years ago #

>>> so this feature lets you keep track of all the sites you search, right? doesn't google desktop already do that for me? the only difference is that now its stored online instead of on my computer. <<<

You're completely right! I think I never use "Google Web History" because I have already Google Desktop.

Calvin [PersonRank 0]

12 years ago #

is that ur email address?

Colin Colehour [PersonRank 10]

12 years ago #

Philipp, Your post leaves out Google Checkout data too. If someone got a hold of your account, they could a) buy stuff and ship it anywhere which would get charged to your Google Checkout credit card on file, b) browse through your past Google Checkout purchases.
  
Search History (All search tools)
Purchase History (Checkout)
Make New Purchases (Checkout)
Email History
Blog subscriptions (Google Reader)
News Alerts
Notebook clippings
Website stats
Co-op/customized search engine stats and settings

Man, it would be scary to have my account hacked!

Ricardo Sánchez [PersonRank 1]

12 years ago #

It seems that the full-text search does not work by storing a snap shot of the visited pages at the time you clicked on them; instead it seem to rely on the currently version of the page in Google's cache.

(As a proof, I searched for 'instances of full videos' on my Google's Web History, but Blogoscoped didn't show up, as it is only cached up to the Froogle name change post.)

This is logical, as it saves Google tons of space and bandwidth, but it severely limits the usefulness of this feature. Apart from the problem with newly updated, uncached pages; what happens with old pages that are no longer available on Google's cache?

Tiago Serafim [PersonRank 4]

12 years ago #

It even shows up the ads that I clicked on the past...

Jack Hynes [PersonRank 6]

12 years ago #

This is amazing! (and quite scary). It has every song I've listened to as well in the web history!

I have my 'away message' on Google Talk set to whatever I play on iTunes and the web history also logs that!

When I get back to Feisty I think I might not install the toolbar

B. [PersonRank 2]

12 years ago #

A dum but not so dum question: Does Google Web History records the sites you visit in other browsers?

Philipp Lenssen [PersonRank 10]

12 years ago #

I think if you're not running the toolbar on the other browser, and you're not logged in to your Google Account, then no. (They might match your IP if you're doing web searches though, which may allow them to connect stuff to you in a non-reliable way...)

Inferno [PersonRank 10]

12 years ago #

Google I think already knows too much about you because the can easily track you visiting pages with Google Ads. Also when sometimes you visit a website and make a mistake in writing the address they take you to some sites with adds and options to buy that domain etc. This means that sometimes there might be obscene stuffs that Google might relate with you Google Accounts.

Also something that concerns me is, will Google record the forms I fill up and submit?

* They have placed themselves in our web browsing activity, may be next in our dreams ;)

B. [PersonRank 2]

12 years ago #

Another dum but not so dum question: When you agree with their terms and conditions – concerning your web history – do they tell you about other browsers?

Brock [PersonRank 0]

12 years ago #

This time they've gone too far. I don't mind them having my email and Checkout information because I give a lot of thought as to which websites I give financial information to, or what I write in emails. I don't practice the same level of care in web-surfing. Indeed, I'm deliberately "reckless" in the sites I visit since the good new discoveries out-number the sites that turn out to have things I'd rather not have read or seen.

Put another way, I might visit a racist hate site to get an inside view on the workings of those minds, or to wander through forums I disagree with strongly on other matters, but I wouldn't want those sites to show up in my web history or to somehow become associated with me.

Web History really, really feels like Big Brother. I've never felt that way about Google before. I always felt like they were watching out for my needs. Now I just feel like they're watching.

Googoo Guru [PersonRank 1]

12 years ago #

So is our Google Account as valuable now as our Social Security number? Maybe even more so.

Arno Nym [PersonRank 0]

12 years ago #

I think it's a sure bet to say this new feature will become un-deactivatable once it is out of beta (to enhance the user experience). They will also find a way to either get this working independent of any software installed on your system.

I left Google when they made the search history mandatory to enhance my user experience.

Mail: FastMail Enhanced
Feeds: Bloglines
Bookmarks: del.icio.us
Calendar: 30 Boxes (until Scrybe is ready)
IM: Skype

(I'm not affiliated with any of those except being a user)

B. [PersonRank 2]

12 years ago #

Google often host visitors in Google offices. Just recently, a group of high school students visited their office. The point of such visits is to inspire teens to think about working in technology some day. I wonder what would happen if in the near future one of the Google workers – trying to be nice to one of the kids – points to a server and say: " This is you!"

Hashim [PersonRank 10]

12 years ago #

here's the point everyone is missing – this feature makes bookmarking services obsolete.

No longer do I have to have the prescience to know which pages I should bookmark for later, or think about how I should tag them.

With personalized results and recommendations, no longer do I have to subscribe to social bookmark services to find interesting pages.

B. [PersonRank 2]

12 years ago #

>>>here's the point everyone is missing – this feature makes bookmarking services obsolete....<<<

A Faustian pact!

Mrrix32 [PersonRank 10]

12 years ago #

Somebody needs to tell them Froogle has changed it's name :-)

The strange thing with finding this (which I forgot to mention earlier) was that it was the first time the Recommendations Button on the Google Toolbar has given me something I wanted, although I expect it was down to me just using a button on the toolbar rather than an actual recommendation.

Josue R. [PersonRank 10]

12 years ago #

is there anyway to PAUSE or even opt-out from this service?

Brian Mingus [PersonRank 10]

12 years ago #

Google has learned that most users are OK with having their data collected as long as they can see exactly what that data is and have the option to turn it off.

This is going to be amazing for improving the web, because all of this information can be used as training data in machine learning algorithms.

Philipp Lenssen [PersonRank 10]

12 years ago #

> is there anyway to PAUSE or even
> opt-out from this service?

Yup, you can hit the "Pause" button in your web history (left-hand navigation). You can also disable the PageRank feature of the Google toolbar...

B. [PersonRank 2]

12 years ago #

My feeling is that we are getting so dependent on information as addicts to their drugs, and some important issues are being ignored. It's not a question of whether you have something to hide or not. It's not a question of whether Google is evil or not. Google is just another multi billion international company doing business as usual – in this case, organizing all that information. I wonder how people would have reacted twenty years ago if a phone company offered them free service in exchange of some junk mail, a newspaper subscription and the permission to tape all their conversations. My answer would have been: no. An here we are today trying to decide if this Web History tool is worth the price..,

Tony Ruscoe [PersonRank 10]

12 years ago #

JM said:

<< The three terms show up in my history as though I have actually typed them, but no results page appears...it just seems as though they are running perpetually "behind the scenes". I do not know how to address this or shut it off. Has anyone else experienced this "phantom" search behavior? >>

Maybe someone's been planting entries in your history, like this:
blogoscoped.com/archive/2005-0 ...

;-)

Andrew Hitchcock [PersonRank 10]

12 years ago #

Too bad it is only a Firefox plugin. I'd like to be able to use this (at least temporarily, to try it out) from Safari.

Tony Ruscoe [PersonRank 10]

12 years ago #

BTW, here's something that's been getting on my nerves for a while...

If I'm on the standard Google home page – rather than the Personalized Home Page – how come I have to search for something in order to view my Web History? I could alternatively click "My Account" and then "Web History" but it's much quicker to type some gibberish into the search box and then click "Web History" in the top right... which then contaminates my Web History!

Oh, and the Personalized Home page still uses the "Search History" name and link. Google really should plan their branding updates and renaming exercises more carefully... ;-)

Mambo [PersonRank 10]

12 years ago #

Totally agree with you there Tony. I was going to post the same two things.

Philipp Lenssen [PersonRank 10]

12 years ago #

> Maybe someone's been planting entries
> in your history, like this:

Hmm, the Iframe trick doesn't work with Web History, I just checked. Guess it misses the toolbar on Iframes...

> If I'm on the standard Google home page – rather
> than the Personalized Home Page – how come I
> have to search for something in order to view my
> Web History?

Good tip, I always briefly switched to the Personalized Homepage to access it. But Google should fix this...

Adam Lasnik [PersonRank 2]

12 years ago #

> the Google workers – trying to be nice to one of the kids – points to a server and say: " This is you!"

Privacy is taken very, very, very seriously here. I'm in Search Quality and even I don't have anything close to the capability to see individual users' Web history. It's also pretty drummed in to our heads that this wouldn't even be something to joke about internally.

One other thing of note: if you walk away from your computer for a bit and a spouse decides to snoop by going to your Google History page, they're going to be asked for your Google Account password (even if you're already logged in). We also double-protect several other Google services (and your privacy) in this way.

Ricardo Sánchez [PersonRank 1]

12 years ago #

Mr Lasnik:
Could you comment if I am correct regarding the way that plain-text search of sites in your Web History being is performed, by going through the current snapshot in Google cache?

What happens with old, uncached-by-Google pages, they are not plain-text searched at all?

If this is the case, is it in consideration to also store in to Web History the text-snapshot of the site in the moment of the visit?

Having this feature would improve even more Web History, making it your real "personal slice of internet", although it would raise privacy issues again for sure.

/pd [PersonRank 10]

12 years ago #

yeah Adam, but if you on the my account page and hit web history, it just goes straight to the history conent..

I don' see double protection happening there .. and I agree, I must be really stupid to be on myaccount landin page open!!

/pd [PersonRank 10]

12 years ago #

the POC is = >gmail=>my services » Web History

B. [PersonRank 2]

12 years ago #

Mr Lasnik
I am a Google user and enjoy many Google products, as most earthlings do. I have no doubt privacy is taken very seriously at Google. But unfortunately that's not the point. I have lived long enough and, as Hugh MacLeod pointed out today, "Life being what it is, it's amazing babies don't cry more often"

B.

Alex Ksikes [PersonRank 10]

12 years ago #

To me it's more a revamp of Google Accelerator in terms of what it gives to the big Goog. In Google Accelarator the user's gain is the speed up in page load. In Google History it is the more usefull feature of searching what I have read online. The benefit to Google remains the same though: knowing what you're up to outside of the "Google network" (eg outside of Gmail, Google Search or Personalized Homepage ...).

Philipp Lenssen [PersonRank 10]

12 years ago #

> I'm in Search Quality and even I don't have
> anything close to the capability to see individual
> users' Web history.

Who at Google gets to see users' Web history then (and for what purposes)?

Inferno [PersonRank 10]

12 years ago #

Yeah Philipp... Good question. Now we must know the answer. If now company policy concerns then just tell us the designation of the person or the reason for which a human might see this...

JM [PersonRank 1]

12 years ago #

Tony (Ruscoe):

Thx for yr feedback on my inquiry:

JM said:

<< The three terms show up in my history as though I have actually typed them, but no results page appears...it just seems as though they are running perpetually "behind the scenes". I do not know how to address this or shut it off. Has anyone else experienced this "phantom" search behavior? >>

Maybe someone's been planting entries in your history, like this:
blog.outer-court.com/archive/2 ...

I figured out what the issue was. I had three search terms in Google News that were live-bookmarked as RSS feeds in my Firefox bookmarks toolbar. Each time I refreshed/restarted Firefox, they would search and subsequently, show up in my history.

If a user is particular about their web history, this may skew it. Cheers.

James Xuan [PersonRank 10]

12 years ago #

picasaweb.google.com/xuanjames ...
They have alink in search results telling you about this now
Thumb:


lh6.google.com/image/xuanjames ...

Tony Ruscoe [PersonRank 10]

12 years ago #

I'm not seeing the same as James. I'm still getting just a "Web History" link in the top right.

Mani [PersonRank 1]

12 years ago #

Hi Philip,

A small thought deviating from this topic,

I see FROOGLE still listed on the left hand menu while it doesnt show me anything that i searched on Google products!

Anything missing? I've written about it here – dailydose4me.blogspot.com/2007 ...

Let me know your thoughts on it please.

Best,
Mani

Mambo [PersonRank 10]

12 years ago #

I came to the sign-in page just before and it appeared like this... as if it was back to the name Search History again...


img159.imageshack.us/img159/36 ...



...weird.

Tony Ruscoe [PersonRank 10]

12 years ago #

Mambo, it looks like your "hl=" parameter was probably set to "en-GB" rather than just "en" or something.

Colin Colehour [PersonRank 10]

12 years ago #

Creating a new Google Account off of the Personalized Homepage page has a new checkbox about the Web History service. It is automatically checked for you. How convenient. :)


farm1.static.flickr.com/173/47 ...



ml [PersonRank 1]

12 years ago #

I have a few questions...

1. Does Web History work if you do not have the Google Toolbar?

2. Even if you have Google Toolbar, can you still make it where it does not keep track of you?

3. If I were to log into my friends house (with my Google account) who has Google Toolbar enabled and Web History, then will it still track me and include my friends searches?

Philipp Lenssen [PersonRank 10]

12 years ago #

> 1. Does Web History work if you do not have the Google Toolbar?

Don't think so, though some people reported it works with third-party PageRank buttons too.

> 2. Even if you have Google Toolbar, can you still make
> it where it does not keep track of you?

Yes, you can pause web history if you opted in... but Google can still know (internally, and theoretically) where you went, they just won't show it back to you.

> 3. If I were to log into my friends house (with
> my Google account) who has Google Toolbar
> enabled and Web History, then will it still track me and
> include my friends searches?

Whether or not your friend has web history enabled isn't important when you're logged in with your account at their computer. What I think is important though for your history to be tracked is that your friend enabled the PageRank feature on the Google Toolbar...

Colin Colehour [PersonRank 10]

12 years ago #

[put at-character here]Philipp – Web History will work partially without the Google Toolbar. It will only keep track of what you do with Google Searches through several of their services. But it won't catch anything you do outside of Google.

photoactive [PersonRank 10]

12 years ago #

Nice nod to Ionut's prescience from Matt Cutts:

mattcutts.com/blog/other-handy ...

I'm really liking Web History so far: am finding it useful, and I don't need personally see any need to be nervous, so long as it continues to be properly double-protected. I agree that it's essential that re-entry of password should be required if you click on Web History from the My Account page.

Mambo [PersonRank 10]

12 years ago #

I'm having trouble when i click any result inside my web history.

It comes up with a "Forbidden" message in Google-style (with the Google logo in text). It seems to use a special URL, which is then redirected to the original source. The original source works fine on its own – it's just the error message from Google.

Anyone else getting this?

James Xuan [PersonRank 10]

12 years ago #

No, sorry Mambo

Colin Colehour [PersonRank 10]

12 years ago #

Works fine for me. It that happening with all of your web history links Mambo?

David Hetfield [PersonRank 10]

12 years ago #

how about clearing your cache Mambo?

This thread is locked as it's old... but you can create a new thread in the forum. 

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