Each year search engines like Google, Bing and Yahoo, complete trillions of search queries online. Students are especially dependent on these search tools because of their popularity, convenience and accessibility. However, what students are unaware of, by choice or naiveté is the amount of personal information that is collected during each search session, how that data is used and who is interested in their online behavior profile. Privacy policies are frequently updated in favor of the search companies but are lengthy and often are perused briefly or ignored entirely with little thought about how personal web habits are being exploited for analytics and marketing.
As an Information Literacy instructor, and a member of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, I believe in the importance of educating college students and web users in general that they have a right to privacy online. Class discussions on the topic of web privacy have yielded an interesting perspective on internet search usage. Students are unaware of how their online behavior is recorded and have consistently expressed their hesitancy to use tools that disguise or delete their IP address because of the stigma that it may imply they have something to hide or are engaging in illegal activity. Additionally, students fear they will have to surrender the convenience of uber connectivity in their applications to maintain their privacy.
The purpose of this lightning presentation is to provide educators with a lesson plan highlighting and simplifying the privacy terms for the three major search engines, Google, Bing and Yahoo. This presentation focuses on what data these search engines collect about users, how that data is used and alternative search solutions, like DuckDuckGo, for increased privacy. Students will directly benefit from this lesson because informed internet users can protect their data, feel safer online and become more effective web searchers.