Can Someone Else's Search History Show Up In Your Google History?

Jul 10, 2009 • 8:37 am | comments (5) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under Google Search Engine

Google's web history is great for finding things you have searched for in the past. It comes in handy for many reasons. In fact, it even helped a parent catch his son searching for porn, but is it always accurate?

Every now and then, I see threads pop up with complaints that someone else's search history is showing up in that person's Google history. I always dismiss it as someone else accessing this person's computer or someone having his Google account password, and messing with this person. But now, I am not a 100% convinced it is always user error.

An updated Google Web Search Help thread has one person who reported an issue with his web history back in January and came in recently to tell us his story. He basically said a Google representative talked to him offline and then took down his information. Shortly after, that web history was gone, according to this searcher, and the problem never occurred again.

I asked him what happened and he said:

I never found out what the issue was. If Google knew the answer, no one from Google told me. I had a conference call with a product manager and and an engineer, they said they'd work on it, and then the problem went away. That was several months ago, and the problem has not returned for me.

I don't know how widespread the issue is--not that many people check their web history. I suspect it's a lot more than the handful of people who are reporting it here. I was, and am, most concerned about the integrity of my searches and my personal information showing up on someone else's computer and my having no idea it was happening. I don't use online map services any longer, nothing that would indicate my address.

Personally, I rarely check my web history and I am sure 90% of searchers don't even know about Google web history. So I wouldn't be surprised that if there was an issue, a lot more are being affected without knowing. Clearly, this can be a huge security, privacy and confidentiality concern for the Google searcher.

Forum discussion at Google Web Search Help.

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Michael Martinez

07/10/2009 06:07 pm

There was a time last year when I saw other people's data in my Google Analytics. I think Google is occasionally prone to database corruptions like any service. I am sure they work quickly to resolve such issues when they find out about them.


02/23/2012 08:32 am

This is happening to us, there are times when we are not using the computer, it is definitely signed out from all other possible users (you can do that at the bottom of your gmail account) and still shows web searches. Many are quite dodgy porn searches and this is really unacceptable. I'm suspicious that I can find so little about this anywhere on line. This needs greater investigation.


08/30/2013 02:14 pm

Is happening to me, but I believe is someone using the notebook in my former job, because the name of device. Still dont know how resolve this...


02/17/2014 11:48 pm

I would be so easy to take advantage of this and sue the holy shit out of them..


03/18/2014 07:02 am

Happening to me. I'm the only one who uses the computer, and the searches mostly went to a gmail account, the owner of which I'm no familiar with (so not user error on my part). Looks like they were reading their email and searching cars today, so nothing scandalous. Still unnerving though!

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