THE SECRETS WE KEEP FROM FRIENDS BUT SHARE WITH GOOGLE
LONDON, Aug. 30, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — Privacy and security firm ExpressVPN, today reveals that half of Brits would alter their online behaviour if they knew their internet search history would be made public, with potentially millions admitting they would feel embarrassed, worried and ashamed. And it’s not just personal, the study of 2,000 adults by OnePoll found almost a third (29%) have been worried about how their online profile has impacted their ability to find a job.
Harold Li, vice president, ExpressVPN, which commissioned the research, said: "Your search history is like your digital DNA. It can reflect your innermost thoughts and worries as well as where you’re thinking of for your next holiday. Being able to access information and get answers to questions through search is a given in today’s world. The ability to be able to do this privately and without fear is critical."
Best life on Insta, real life on Google
With 35% of Brits admitting to telling Google stuff that they would not tell anyone else, it’s perhaps unsurprising that nearly half admit that they would feel some type of negative emotion if someone saw their internet search history with a fifth (19%) feeling awkward, 17% embarrassed, and 10% worried.
Two-fifths of those who would be embarrassed (40%) admit this is because they have a ‘naughty’ search history, with a similar number more worried it would reveal some of the ‘silly’ thoughts in their head and 37% that it reveals a side to them they just do not want to share. Parents topped the poll for those who we’d be most embarrassed to see our searches at 50% but were closely followed by spouses/partners at 40% and 20% if colleagues saw their unfiltered search history.
One rule for them…
While we clearly do not want our internet search history to be made public it would appear that many Brits are quite happy to snoop on others. In fact, 28% of people admit to snooping on someone else’s search history!, with 46% of those who admit to having done this, having checked that of their spouse or partner, 37% their friends, 34% their parents, and 8% even of their work colleagues.
68% feel more comfortable turning to the internet to answer tricky questions than friends or family. In fact, 17% of people would rather ask the internet for advice on sex, dating and relationships, and 10% of people prefer to search online about politics than turn to their nearest and dearest.
The study also identifies that 21% turn to the internet when it’s a subject that they can’t talk about or aren’t ready to talk to friends and family about, like mental health or contraception.
22% of people would rather search online to diagnose a physical illness, and 17% for a cure than ask friends and family. Nearly one in ten (9%) of people would rather search online for cures for a mental condition than turn to friends and family.
And of course, there’s the embarrassment of not knowing an answer to ‘simple’ questions with almost a third of people (30%) would rather search online to find out the meaning of certain words and 22% how to make a meal or drink than reveal their lack of knowledge.
Concern failing to convert to action
While 46% claim they are concerned or very concerned about the internet’s ability to track their search history, and 62% are worried or very worried about how much companies can know about them based on their internet search history, research shows we are doing very little to protect ourselves.
47% never browse incognito and 58% never use a VPN to protect themselves.
In fact, 50% think it would be useful if their search history could be deleted automatically with 27% wanting this to happen automatically every day!
Harold added: "Using a VPN can be a useful tool to ensure companies can’t see, log, or sell records of your activity online, such as what websites you are connecting to or apps you’re using. Every day, millions of internet users are giving big companies the ability to look at what they’re doing online – and they don’t even know it. By taking control of what we let others see about our online behaviour, users are taking power back into their own hands, quickly and effectively."
For more findings and data, please visit ExpressVPN’s blog.
OnePoll.com, commissioned by ExpressVPN, conducted a study of 2,000 adults in June 2022.
Founded in 2009, ExpressVPN is a leader in privacy and security technology, guided by the mission to make the internet more open, free, and accessible for all. The company’s innovative products and award-winning software for Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, Linux, routers, and browsers enable millions of people to take control of their privacy online with just a few clicks. In 2021, ExpressVPN joined the Kape Technologies family of leading privacy and security brands. To learn more about ExpressVPN’s industry-leading cybersecurity solutions, visit expressvpn.com.