Google has created its own universe. If you wanted to, you could use nothing but Google products, and live a very fruitful digital life. You could buy a Chromebook, use Gmail and G Suite, post your videos to YouTube, and save every last bit of data on Google Drive.
You could make all your appointments on Google Calendar, download all your media from Google Play, and tell the world about your amazing Google experience on Blogger. And of course, have Google search answer your questions.
When you convert your life to Google, you make a Faustian deal: Google caters to your every whim, but you also hand Google an enormous amount of your personal information. You hand over your correspondences, your private files, and if you use Google Maps on your Android phone, even your physical movements.
Above all, Google Ads make people nervous. The personalized ads follow you around the internet, pummeling you with images and links that reflect your recent activities and searches. Nowhere else does Google make its intimate knowledge so blatant, and you may find the effect unsettling.
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Luckily, you have much control over those ads, partly because Google has responded positively to customer feedback. So if you want the world’s most sophisticated data company to stop invading your privacy, here are some steps you can take.
Why Google knows so much about you
Google has a startling ability to pinpoint your interests. The tech giant is a bit mysterious when it comes to telling you how it determines what topics interest you. According to Google: “Ads are based on personal info you’ve added to your Google Account, data from advertisers that partner with Google, and Google’s estimation of your interests.”
In short, you tell Google a lot about yourself. Every time you search for something, every time you click on a YouTube video, and every time you book a plane ticket through Google Travel, the company is automatically crunching this data. The instant you log into your account, Google gathers new data, contributing to its portrait of your digital and consumer existence.
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The good news, though, is that Google has become increasingly transparent about tracking your interests. You can even see which topics Google thinks are of interest to you, then modify those interests, so you see ads more accurately reflect your personality and lifestyle.
Conversely, you can tell Google to stop tailoring its ads to your interests. You can’t turn off ads entirely, but you can prevent Google from targeting you for brands and products that the algorithm thinks you’ll like.
Here’s how to tailor Google ads to match your interests
This may seem obvious, but you must first sign into your Google account. Start by going to Google.com and signing in.
Click on the menu bar, which is a box with three horizontal dots and three vertical dots in the upper-right side of your screen. Then click on Account. Scroll down to the box that says Personal Info & Privacy. Tap or click on Ad Settings >> Manage Ad Settings.
You’ll see Ad Personalization is On. Scroll down to see your interests – the ones Google ads think are of interest to you.
This is where you can manipulate the ads to appeal to your actual tastes. You can turn them on or off by clicking on each topic. For example, you may see that one of your interests is American Football; if that topic or others aren’t of interest, click on the topic and click Turn Off.
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Here’s how to turn off Google’s personalized ads
If you’re still creeped out about Google knowing too much private information about you, you can turn off Google’s ad targeting. Scroll back up the screen until you see Ad Personalization is On.
Slide the screen to Off. Then click Turn Off.
Remember, you’re not turning off ads. You’ll still see advertisements when you’re on Google sites, including Gmail, YouTube, and other Google-owned sites. They just won’t be targeted to your private information.
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