By: Justin Goldberg

Does it sometimes seem like Google knows you better than you do? Well, that might actually be the case. Many companies with expansive pools of internet users such as Google, Yahoo, and AOL Advertising track users’ browser histories and use the information to display ads that are relevant to a person’s specific interests or needs. You may have noticed this in action before, it’s not brand new to web browsing. For example, if you just bought a box of golf balls on Amazon, you may see an ad on Facebook for discounted golf lessons the next time you log in.

All this seems at worst harmless and at best like something that provides opportunities to find products online you may actually be interested in. Google, however, is taking things a step further.

Remember when you logged in to your Gmail, YouTube, or Google+ account and ignored the message up top telling you to read about Google’s changing privacy policy? I ignored it at first too, but there is something too important inside to be swept under the rug. The new privacy policy, set to go into effect March 1st, plans to incorporate your search history into your browsing experience on YouTube and Google+. Relevant Google searches might be stuff like searching for song lyrics or a recipe. Think for a minute, though, about Google searches. Say you’re under 21 but you were curious about the alcohol content of that drink you had last night was. Or maybe you’re a bit paranoid about those bumps on your nether regions. You go to Google to find this information, right? You can see why intertwining social networking with day-to-day search histories may not be the best combination.

What happens when Google and Facebook are confused...the harmless way

Fortunately, there are a couple of options for blocking such behavior. One is a new Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights introduced by the Federal Trade Commission. Included in the new document is the requirement that users are offered a “Do Not Track” option. This option is not available for all sources yet, and may be somewhat difficult to access in other cases. Another way to gain piece of mind is to manually remove your search history from Google and pause its future collection.

The following simple steps can be taken to remove your Google search history, but this must be done by March 1st. Log in to you Google account, and then go to https://www.google.com/history. Click on the “remove all Web history” button, then click “ok.” Performing this action should pause Google’s collection from you unless you manually instruct them to start again. If you have multiple accounts, you’ll have to do this for each one.

Privacy protection is that simple. Happy browsing everyone!

Sources:

https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2012/02/how-remove-your-google-search-history-googles-new-privacy-policy-takes-effect

http://searchenginewatch.com/article/2154757/Google-Microsoft-Yahoo-Working-With-White-House-on-Do-No-Track-Browsing

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Written by Ad Buzz

The American Advertising Federation Illinois Chapter brings to you Ad Buzz, a blog dedicated to all things advertising related, from our favorite campaigns to trends going on in the industry.

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