Data privacy has been one of the most growing concerns in recent times, and especially what a company aims to do with it after collecting that data. We’ve seen how the concern has adversely affected Facebook and has also pushed other companies to modify their privacy policies, especially with GDPR also coming along at around the same time.
Google, which is probably the biggest harvester of personal data, has also now shared new details about the data it collects, as well as giving its users control over it.
Google has long been criticized for their way of displaying personalized ads, which directly goes to show how much personal data the company has. Now, as announced in an official blog post, Google is launching a new Ad Settings experience, which makes it easier for you to understand and control how your ads are tailored to you. Users can also find the new Ad Settings page at the bottom of their Chrome’s New Tab page.
Originally launched in 2009, users can visit the Ad Settings page and scroll through the list of factors that are considered as algorithms figure out which ads to serve up. Additionally, one can click on the categories to get more detail, and can even remove certain ones if they wish.
“This information helps make ads more relevant and useful to you. However, in the new Ad Settings, if you no longer want us to tailor your ads based on one of these factors you can choose to turn it off. Turning off a factor means you’ll no longer receive tailored ads related to it across our services, and on websites and apps that partner with us to show ads, as long as you’re signed in to your Google Account. The ads you see can still be based on general factors, like the subject of what you’re looking at or the time of day, or any other factor that is still turned on.”
Additionally, Google is also rolling out changes to its “Why this ad?” feature, originally launched in 2011, which makes it easier to understand why you see certain ads. The company is now expanding the tool to make it available across virtually all of its products and services.
“Starting today, you’ll see “Why this ad?” notices on all our services that show Google Ads, such as ads on YouTube (including the YouTube app on connected TVs), Google Play, Gmail, Maps, and Search. We’ve also expanded it to include almost all of the websites and apps that partner with us to show ads.”
Going through the Ad Settings page has not only made me realize how much Google knows about me but also how accurate some of the predictions are. I have indeed turned off a couple of things about which I wouldn’t want to see the ads about, and I’d also urge our readers to do the same.