Online privacy at risk - the weird things people Google about politicians

What were people Googling during conference season?


As conference season winds down for 2017 and politicians start heading back to work, we thought we’d share a little bit of research we’ve been conducting.


During the 2017 conference season, we monitored Google search trends for some of the UK’s most high profile politicians, to discover what the UK public want to know most about our elected politicians.

The results range from funny and bizarre to potentially quite sinister.


For example, who hasn’t at least once, wondered if Theresa May is related to motoring journalist and former Top Gear presenter James May?

Or whether Boris Johnson is left-handed? It doesn’t appear that he is by the way - although all three American presidents before Trump were left-handed. As was Albert Einstein.

Sufficient people have also Googled “What does Michael Gove do?” to make it an autocomplete suggestion too.

On the less amusing and somewhat worrying side, were searches related to the very private lives of senior politicians.

Yes, wanting to know if Michael Gove is married (he is, to journalist Sarah Vine) is reasonable, but the top searches for both Philip Hammond and Rebecca Long Bailey were trying to find out where they live.

In fact, we noticed a few unusual searches when it came to female politicians. The top suggestion for searches that start “is Diane Abbott...” was ‘black?’ Surely you don’t need to Google that?

Here's the full run down of what people want to know about the Britain's politicians.

Conservative Party politicians



Politician

top suggestion

second suggestions

third suggestion

"is"

Theresa May

Tory

related to James May

for Brexit

"is"

Boris Johnson

conservative

left-handed

American

"is"

Michael Gove

married

a climate change denier

a climate change sceptic

"is"

Philip Hammond

still chancellor

a remainder (sic)

married

"is"

Amber Rudd

married

good

s seat safe?

"is"

David Davis

married

a brexiteer?

no data

"is"

Jeremy Hunt

married

keeping his job

no data

"is"

Michael Fallon

a brexiteer

no data

no data

"is"

Liam Fox

no data

no data

no data



Politician

top suggestion

second suggestions

third suggestion

"does"

Theresa May

have a sister

have a tattoo

have Snapchat

"does"

Boris Johnson

support Brexit

want to be PM

support fox hunting?

"does"

Michael Gove

believe in climate change

(what) does Michael Gove do?

no data

"does"

Philip Hammond

where does Philip Hammond live?

what does Philip Hammond do?

no data

"does"

Amber Rudd

no data

no data

no data

"does"

David Davis

no data

no data

no data

"does"

Jeremy Hunt

no data

no data

no data

"does"

Michael Fallon

(how much) does Michael Fallon earn?

no data

no data

"does"

Liam Fox

no data

no data

no data




Labour Party politicians

Jeremy Corbyn press shot with caption

Politician

top suggestion

second suggestions

third suggestion

"is"

Jeremy Corbyn

married

rich

vegetarian

"is"

Tom Watson

related to emma watson

how old is Tom Watson MP?

"is"

John McDonnell

married

Marxist

ill?

"is"

Jon Trickett

an MP?

no data

no data

"is"

Angela Rayner

married

who is Angela Rayner

"is"

Sadiq Khan

married

Labour

ismailli

"is"

Emily Thornberry

married

no data

no data

"is"

Diane Abbott

black

no data

no data

"is"

Rebecca Long Bailey

how old is Rebecca Long Bailey?

no data

no data




Politician

top suggestion

second suggestions

third suggestion

"does"

Jeremy Corbyn

have a wife?

support Trident?

have Snapchat?

"does"

Tom Watson

no data

no data

no data

"does"

John McDonnell

no data

no data

no data

"does"

Jon Trickett

no data

no data

no data

"does"

Angela Rayner

no data

no data

no data

"does"

Sadiq Khan

no data

no data

no data

"does"

Emily Thornberry

what does Emily Thornberry's Tweet mean?

no data

no data

"does"

Diane Abbott

how much does Diane Abbott earn?

What does Diane Abbott do?

no data

"does"

Rebecca Long Bailey

where does Rebecca Long Bailey live?

no data

no data

Other politicians
Nick Clegg giving a speech

Politician top suggestion second suggestions third suggestion
"is" Nigel Farage coming back? on LBC tonight rich?
"is" Vince Cable standing in 2017 Good? no data
"is" Nick Clegg standing running Dutch?
"is" Nicola Sturgeon married stepping down 's hair real?
"is" Nicola Sturgeon married on holiday
"is" Mhairi Black still an MP single
"is" John Swinney married
"is" Ruth Davidson
(where) is Ruth Davidson's seat
"is" Kezia Dugdale related to Rose Dugdale
(what) age is Kezia Dugdale
"is" Shona Robinson married
"is" Leanne Wood married
standing for Westminster
Politician top suggestion second suggestions third suggestion
"does" Nigel Farage have a German passport have a brother have cancer
"does" Vince Cable lose his seat keep his seat win
"does" Nick Clegg speak Spanish have a brother
have a daughter?
"does" Nicola Sturgeon have siblings no data no data
"does" Mhairi Black (how) does Mhairi Black pronounce her name no data no data
"does" John Swinney (where) does John Swinney live no data no data
"does" Ruth Davidson no data no data no data
"does" Kezia Dugdale no data no data no data
"does" Shona Robinson no data no data no data
"does" Leanne Wood no data no data no data


Online privacy and information security

It's not surprising that the general public are using Google to discover more about our politicians, but it is concerning that some people are so keen to know where certain politicians live, who their family are and what's going on with their health. Politicians have expert advisers who can guide them as to how much information they allow about themselves to go online. Members of the public don't.

Steve Roberts, of Online Spy Shop, has this advice for anyone concerned about their own online privacy. "The first thing to do is ensure all of your social media accounts are set how you want them. A lot of people aren't aware that their Facebook or Instagram account may be viewable by anyone, regardless of if they're connected to them on the platform.

"Go to the settings section for each platform to check this.

"Secondly, be very careful about posting anything that could be used to personally identify you. People are obviously careful about posting financial information, but they still make mistakes. Don't post any information you'd be uncomfortable with a stranger knowing - that's my advice."

Steve also advises users be cautious when it comes to image sharing.

"Youngsters who've just passed their driving test often post a picture of their license when it arrives. Likewise, people post images of the keys to their new flat. A criminal could use this information in a number of ways. Just don't do it."


How we conducted our research


By monitoring Google’s autocomplete suggestions, which are based on previously entered search terms, we were able to see what people had been searching. Google’s autocomplete suggestions do have some real time data and in some cases, Google suggests search terms that are based on what’s happening now.


In other instances, Google makes suggestions based on historical search volume. We used five separate devices, four different web browsers (Internet Explorer, Google Chrome and Firefox and Apple’s version of the Google App)