Seventy-three percent of people polled in a new survey feel search engines that keep track of preferences and gather information to personalize future results are invading their privacy.
The results, from a Pew Internet & American Life survey conducted last month, reveal that in addition to the perceived privacy invasion, 65 percent of people believe personalized search features, such as those offered by Google and Microsoft's Bing, may limit the results offered by the search engine.
This trumps the 29 percent of respondents who, citing the increased relevancy of results, were in favor of personalized search.
The survey was conducted from Jan. 20 through Feb. 19, and questioned 2,253 American adults age 18 and over, including 901 cellphone interviews.
The majority's disapproval of personalized search complements the 68 percent of people who said they are also "Not OK" with targeted advertising due to concerns regarding the tracking and analyzing of their online behavior. Twenty-eight percent said they are "OK" with targeted ads, because they provide them more relevant information tailored to their interests.
Digging deeper, the Pew survey collected data that highlights a crucial discrepancy between people's fears and their ability to proactively mitigate them by taking control of their own online privacy settings.
According to the results, only 38 percent of Internet users said they are aware of ways to limit how much personal information websites can collect about them. Among this 38 percent, 81 percent said they delete their Web history; 75 percent use the privacy settings of websites; and 65 percent change their browser settings to limit personal data collection.