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KAI RYSSDAL: How many times today did you sit down at your computer and look something up online? For me it was probably a couple of dozen. Every month 8 billion searches are done on the Internet. Each one of them leaves a tiny trail of digital bread crumbs behind. Who you are, what you're looking for. Now one search company is changing that, and hoping for a competitive edge.
Marketplace's Lisa Napoli explains.
LISA NAPOLI: The search engine Ask.com today introduced a feature that allows you to leave no trace of your searches. Most of the big guns in the business keep search information on file for at least a year to tailor the ads you see. Greg Jarboe is with the Search Engine Marketing Professionals Organization. He says people are starting to wonder.
GREG JARBOE: Do you want somebody being able to get at somebody's files and discover what you've been looking at?
A recent incident involving Facebook caused a brouhaha after a member's surprise Christmas purchase was announced to everyone in his network, including his wife. Paul Stephens of the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse says that's made people more aware of the power we've been giving up online
PAUL STEPHENS: As people see these sorts of things happening they do get a greater awareness, and are more likely to demand or look for, sites that protect their privacy.
Which is what Ask.com is banking on. It's got only 5 percent of the online search market. Google's got 65 percent.
In Los Angeles, I'm Lisa Napoli for Marketplace.