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With no filter bubble, one would expect to see very little variation of search result pages — nearly everyone would see the same single set of results. That's not what we found.
Instead, most people saw results unique to them. We also found about the same variation in private browsing mode and logged out of Google vs. in normal mode.
Now, some search result variation is expected due to two factors that we controlled for. First, search results can change over time, such as the inclusion of time-sensitive links. We controlled for this factor by having everyone search at the same time.
Second, search results can change by location, such as the inclusion of local news articles. We controlled for this factor by checking all links by hand for this possibility, comparing them to the city and state of the volunteer.
joined:July 19, 2001