Monday, January 30, 2012

You, Google, Ads, Search, and Privacy

As you probably know, Google's privacy policies were recently overhauled. The data that Google collects about your use of their services (including the Chrome web browser) is now shared across all of Google's services. In other words, what you do with Chrome can be shared with Gmail, Google Music, or any of the other Google services you use. Why did they do this? The answer is simple: advertising. Google wants to be able to display the ads that they think will be most relevant to you.

Now, it doesn't bother me that Google thinks I'm a geeky 35-44 year old (they've got my age wrong), but I know that it does bother some people. If it does bother you, there are a couple of simple things that you can do to limit the data that Google collects and shares about you. The obvious thing is to just not use Google products, but that might not be practical for you. And if you think that Google is the only Internet giant collecting data about you, you're wrong. The second thing that you can do is to use Incognito Mode if you are using the Chrome web browser. To stop display advertising from being targeted directly at you you can opt out of display ad networks. You can also opt out of targeted ads in Gmail and Search.

Here's a video about privacy in the Chrome web browser.

If you want to opt out of personalized search display there are two ways you can do this. First, don't log into your Google account before searching. Second, if you are logged into your Google account when you search you can quickly disable personalized results. See the screen capture below for directions.