When you use a search engine, do you see the same results as your colleagues, friends, or family do? If not, why is that? Are search results personalised especially for you? If so, what are the criteria? Which topics do search engines suggest to you and other users?

Since the project began in July 2021, the Australian Search Experience has collected more than 350 million search results. We thank the 1000+ citizen scientists who participated in the project and made this possible.

Over the past 12 months, the plugin started searches on our participants’ Chrome, Edge, and Firefox browsers on 48 topics, from “who should I vote for in the federal election” to “COVID vaccines” and “Tokyo Olympics”.

The Australian Search Experience project now moves from the data donation phase to data analysis phase. Over the coming months we will be analysing the data to understand the personalisation of search results for critical news and information, across key platforms including Google and YouTube, based on the profiles these platforms establish for their different users.

WHY WE NEED THIS RESEARCH

There is a lot of speculation about the impact that search engines have on the information we encounter. In fact, we know very little about how they order and display information.

But search engines are so central to our daily lives that we need a way to independently assess the information they recommend.

We want to achieve this with a crowdsourcing project, and we invite you to participate in this project if you are currently residing in Australia and are aged 18 or older.

The more Australian Internet users support us, the better are the results we will get. So please help us by installing our browser plug-in, which automatically queries leading search engines for key topics from your computer up to six times per day. Your data donation will enable us to determine which factors have an influence on the weighting of the search results. The plugin will not access or transmit any personally identifiable information.

The Australian Search Experience project is funded by the ARC Centre of Excellence for Automated Decision-Making and Society (ADM+S), and coordinated by researchers from Queensland University of Technology. It is based on a similar project that was led by our project partner, the non-profit organisation AlgorithmWatch, in Germany in 2017.

PRELIMINARY OBSERVATIONS

Our analysis of the hundreds of millions of search results donated by the more than 1,000 citizen scientists who have installed the browser plugin so far is still ongoing, and we will release detailed results from this research at a later stage.

At the ADM+S News & Media Symposium on 30 September 2021 we presented very preliminary observations about key patterns in the dataset. You can read about these observations here and watch the full presentation here.

JOIN OTHER PROJECTS

The Australian Ad Observatory project

The Australian Ad Observatory project is seeking members of the public to install a browser extension that aims to provide accountability and transparency around the social media giant’s use of targeted advertising.

Become a citizen scientist and join the
Australian Ad Observatory

CONTACT US

If you need help installing the plugin or have a question contact us datadonation@admscentre.org.au

AlgorithmWatch logo

This project is being conducted in collaboration with partner AlgorithmWatch.

AlgorithmWatch is a non-profit research and advocacy organization that is committed to watch, unpack and analyze automated decision-making (ADM) systems and their impact on society.

Visit AlgorithmWatch 

Send this to a friend