Google Knows You're Sick

Google Knows You're Sick

Did you know that every search query you enter is tracked in Google’s databases? You have probably heard of Google Insights before, it is a useful tool for analysing and predicting trends in all sorts of industries.  Wonder what else Google uses those statistics for?

Google tracks our searches for disease information and maps them to find trends. For example, if you type in a search for “flu”, or any other search queries related to flu in Google, you will be delivered information pertaining to that query – and the query will also be recorded on Google’s disease monitoring service.

By recording the searches of millions of people, as well as scouring the web for online news reports, blogs and chat room postings, Google has a pretty comprehensive indication of disease levels across the globe. While this may work as a way to gather valuable information about where diseases are occuring, it raises a big question on the privacy issues involved.

I guess if you were bored and wanted to get your town quarantined, you could just grab a few friends to start doing searches for plague symptoms.  Just make sure you do it on different computers using different IP addresses, and see how long before anyone from the Centre for Disease Control shows up …

Do you think it is fair or right that Google records this sort of data? And if you don’t -is it motivation enough to stop searching online?

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