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The NSA has forced us to search differently

The NSA has forced us to search differently
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The far-reaching NSA has succeeded in one thing: It's changed the way we search the Web.

According to a new study of Google search trends, we've been staying away from words that are considered sensitive to privacy or government concerns. Since Edward Snowden's revelations, we're all a little bit wary.

"It seemed very possible that we would see no effect," MIT economist Catherine Tucker and digital privacy advocate Alex Marthews write. "However, we do in fact see an overall roughly 2.2 percentage point fall in search traffic on 'high government trouble'-rated search terms."

...

But by analyzing Google's publicly-available search data, they noticed a general pattern: even as searches for less sensitive words appeared to rise, searches for the most suspicious words fell.

"This is the first academic empirical evidence of a chilling effect on users’ willingness to enter search terms that raters thought would get you into trouble with the US government," Tucker wrote in an email.

This chart shows how "High Gov" words - words determined to be high in government sensitivity - were searched less after the NSA revelations.

search chart

Take a look at Motherboard's story for more fascinating information.

In the meantime, don't let the NSA spy on you or your searches. Here's how to keep hidden from the NSA.

 

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Source: Motherboard
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