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.