Google is annoying me more and more each day

Your really good friends know you well; they know what you like to drink, your favourite restaurants and what makes you laugh. But true friends never presume. They never buy your favourite drink in advance of you arriving in the pub; instead they wait and when you arrive ask you if you would like your usual white wine. After all, your friend thinks, you may want a change or you might be on your latest diet, avoiding alcohol. Good friends do not over-personalise things for you – they let you be in control.

Google wants to be your friend, but unfortunately it doesn’t understand what being a friend is really like. In fact, Google is rapidly turning into that annoying so-called friend who assumes he knows what you want to eat and has ordered for you, or the interfering neighbour at your barbecue who realises there is no music and chooses something “you will like”. They are trying to be helpful but are over-stepping the mark because they do not appreciate there is a difference between helpfulness and annoying interference.

Until recently Google was a helpful friend, providing you with search results on what you want. But in its recent desire to be at the centre of the social world Google appears to think it really understands you and is ever-increasing its amount of so-called personalisation. In reality it is becoming an annoying little jerk.

Take for instance the fact that you may be researching something for a client – it’s not something YOU are interested in, but is part of a short-term project. Guess what, Google assumes you love the subject and it pops up in adverts on all sorts of websites as well as in Google News Recommendations. Of course, the stuff you are really, personally interested in has gone down the list because Google thinks it knows you. Get real, Google, you don’t…!

There are ways you can deal with this. For instance you can opt out of the Google advertising cookie so it doesn’t track your search terms and use them in adverts. But the problem then is you are faced with “generic” adverts, which are largely dating sites – and do you really want them all over your screen? You can also use a sophisticated way of searching adding special characters at the end of the search results page you are given and then hitting enter to delete the “personalisation”. But that is just cumbersome and only fine for computer geeks.

It gets worse, of course, because Google thinks it knows you and wants to influence what you might do on Google+. It also wants to personalise your email experience by putting emails in the “right order” for you.

It’s about time the folks at Google realised they are like that annoying acquaintance who thinks they are helping, but in reality are interfering. Google engineers think they have the data to understand your preferences, but compared with the brains of your true friends, Google actually knows diddly-squat about you. The mountains of data are nothing in comparison to the subconscious thinking of your true friends.

Google has a long way to go, but it could certainly help its progress if it switched off its atrocious attempts at personalisation.

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Graham Jones
Graham Jones is an Internet Psychologist who studies the way people use the online world, in particular how people engage with businesses. He uses this knowledge to help companies improve their online connections to their customers and potential customers and offers consultancy, workshops, masterclasses and webinars. He also speaks regularly at conferences and business events. Graham is an award-winning writer and the author of 32 books, several of which are about various aspects of the Internet. For more information connect with me on Google+
Graham Jones

@grahamjones

Graham Jones is an Internet Psychologist, professional speaker and author of 32 books who helps businesses understand the online behaviour of their customers
Another #cyberpsychology issue to consider. And a new word...! Have You Become a Sofalizer? https://t.co/DIuL5T9Qld https://t.co/CxwMGquLwe - 1 day ago
Graham Jones

6 thoughts on “Google is annoying me more and more each day

  1. It’ll be interesting to see how good they get at it though. For what is essentially an AI, they’re already reasonably good. It’ll be interesting to see how much better they can get. They obviously have a way to go, but you wouldn’t put it past them getting a lot better.

  2. Hi Graham
    For once we’re in complete agreement!
    The only thing I’d add is that because Google pays virtually zero tax in the UK, the same friend is a benefits scrounger who lives in an ivory tower and never buys a round.
    There is an effective solution – http://duckduckgo.com/ – better results; better ethics; better people.

  3. Hi Graham,

    Agreed, I have noticed and felt what you’ve said quite well for some time now. IE isn’t much better than Google either. Maybe, it’s because some search engines go by past experiences of both right and wrong directions of others including our own? Maybe, it’s because they assume people are sometimes creatures of habit when they aren’t always, especially when doing research on some off the wall subject not done much or if at all in the past?

    For example, assuming someone is looking for a new car or insurance and they then find it, the ads and information still keep flying long afterwards and soon become very annoying.

    I wish some people in programming would understand somethings are done once in a while and aren’t everyday occurrences? Sometimes, overly helpful acts become hindrance when they aren’t asked for or wanted?

    New is out of the ordinary. Isn’t that why many people search either on line or in real life, for something new in the first place is to get ideas for a current temporary project and not one they already have settled?

    Make us think what? People show both their age and experience by their current actions? Many people realize later in their older years, assuming other peoples needs and wants is not usually all too productive in real life. Younger people and internet search engines apparently aren’t too good at it in most cases by what we’ve seen lately?

    Results? With the above in mind. Possibly, the search engines are programed by younger or less experienced people that haven’t had too many real life experiences? It sure feels and sounds and that way sometimes. So much I have felt like screaming. It’s getting to the point where internet search engines are worse after time goes by because of the present type of programming assumptions. The engines are as intelligent as their programmers? Garbage in, garbage out?

    Sorry for the wordiness. The current lame search engines are a pet peeve of mine too, especially after we both know and have seen it better in the past.
    Thanks for your story and for listening. Take care.

  4. Thanks for your comments Adi, G, and RJ, much appreciated. There are new search engines on the horizon like DuckDuckGo and with the advent of new search facilities about to arrive on Facebook making social search even better, Google will have to respond.

  5. I’ve slowly been noticing this too. It sure does sound like they are trying to mimic Facebook’s Edge Rank which drives me up the wall. Edge Rank on Facebook also decides for you what it thinks you would like. There are fan pages I like for a reason, because I want to see their updates but because I liked the page once and forget to go and comment it gets lost in cyberspace never to be seen again.

    It will also be interesting to see how the Panda Update effects the whole search experience and greatly impacting websites in terms of ranking and also possibly being removed from search.

  6. This is so true. I was recently researching Over 50s insurance products for a client and Google concluded I must be over 50 – I am so not (well not quite yet anyway). I am sure they will get better at it, though.

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