When personalisation gets too personal

Agree with Tim Cook? Is Google ‘gobbling up everything they can learn about you’ to monetize it? Maybe these new privacy settings will help?

You are reading: When personalisation gets too personal

Last month, I wrote about the importance of user feedback in conversion rate optimisation. In part two, I specifically focussed on Google Analytics and segmenting your audience using the ‘interests tab’ and backing it up with Social Media Analytics.

All fascinating, but in light of Tim Cook’s speech while being honored for ‘corporate leadership’ at EPIC’s Champions of Freedom event yesterday, I feel compelled to re-visit the topic.

As detailed on TechCrunch, The Apple CEO made the claim:

… some of the most prominent and successful companies have built their businesses by lulling their customers into complacency about their personal information…

Although not mentioned by name, Cook was obviously talking about (among others) Google – a company that makes some serious spondoolies from targeted advertising based on their users’ shared data.

Are you sharing too much?

Now, this isn’t an Apple Versus The World post at all. Instead, I thought I’d take the opportunity to give a rundown of how to manage your privacy using Google’s new unified privacy and security menu,  aka “My Account”.

Personalisation - Google My Account - Browser Media
Via Google My Account

Both users with and without an account are able to manage their security and privacy settings for all Google services, and can now browser and delete data historically stored by Google. Guemmy Kim, Google’s Account Controls and Settings Product Manager said these new functions are:

… just the latest in our ongoing efforts to protect you and your information on Google. There’s much more to come, and we look forward to your feedback.

Using Google’s new Privacy Settings

You may have been prompted when you signed in already, but otherwise, you can navigate to the Privacy settings by signing in to your Google account and clicking the “Privacy” link.

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Navigating to Google’s new Privacy Settings

Or go to privacy.google.com

Next, click the “Personal info & privacy” tab to see the information stored to your Google account like associated email addresses, phone numbers and your Google+ profile settings. Clicking the “Privacy Check-up” option will take you through a review of your privacy settings:

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Google will allow you to skim through your personal information for a Privacy Check-up

You can look through the data Google would like to save to your account as well as delete historical data and toggle the gathering of data on or off. Google offers a brief description as to why allowing them to gather this information will improve your experience with their services such as browsing history, location history and contacts, calendar, and app data from your associated device.

Turning off an aspect of your account history won’t erase historical data. You’re going to have to click “Manage Settings” to do that. Google warns you that the accuracy of your future searches might be affected should you choose to do this.

Adjusting Google Ad Settings

Or ‘Adjusting how accurately Google can target ads at you

Just to make it clear, you can’t turn off advertising here. It’s not possible. If that’s what you’re after, go check out AdBlock or PoperBlocker.

ANYway, when you’re in Ad Settings, you can update the information (age, language, interests) used to ‘decide’ which ads are shown based on your available demographic data.

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Adjust how accurately Google can target ads at you

Anything else?

Yes. You can also download and archive a copy of your data from Google products from the Personal and privacy info. I can’t see why you’d want to do this… maybe to reminisce about the time you searched for the lyrics to Blackalicious’ Alphabet Aerobics? Dunno. But yeah, every search query (bar the incognito stuff) will be in there.

Lastly, you can add an Inactive Account Manager. Basically a trustee to your account who can see all your photos, emails and docs after a preset timeout period and decide what to do with them if you find yourself in any number of situations that “might prevent you from accessing or using your Google account”.

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