Deleting Google search history, blocking ads & starting fresh
As from 1 March 2012, it will be easier than ever for online advertisers to target web users, thanks to Google. Apart from debates about privacy, the simple fact is that the majority of Internet users are not experienced webmasters who know how to control and customise their privacy options.
For those rare occasions when we don't just want to buy random crap off the Internet (sarcasm), it becomes really irritating and intrusive to be constantly bombarded by adverts. I spent a couple of hours going through all my Google accounts and finding information from my teenaged years and experimental student days. Any “likes” or “interests” that you may have added somewhere in the webesphere could soon be used to load the cannons of consumerism and bombard you.
If you use Google, you may want to read this is a good article to read (published at The Age dot com) if you haven't a clue what this is all about. But what follows are a few useful places to start if you wish to start blocking ads and begin cleaning out some of your data and baggage before Google gets a firmer hold on it.
Clearing your Google Search History:
(the info below also appears on The Age dot com):
- Go to the Google History page and sign in.
- Click “Remove All Web History” then “Okay” to confirm.
- Your Google Search History should be turned on by default. You can always click "Resume" if you decide to turn this feature back on.
For more control over your various Google accounts that you may or may not have, try these:
- Google Dashboard: Here you can control the data associated with your Google Account.
- Ads Preferences Manager: Here you can make changes to the ads you see, including blocking specific advertisers or opting-out of seeing personalised ads completely.
- Eject button: If you decide you want to opt out altogether, Google provides a one stop shop to opt out of everything and take your "data dandruff" with you completely.
Blocking Ads in Firefox and Chrome
For blocking ads, there is also a useful plugin for Firefox and Chrome called Adblock Plus, which does as the name suggests: blocks ads.
A final website I came across almost by accident is the Network Advertising Initiative. An article on here called Opt Out of Behavioral Advertising gives a status on which advertising groups you have received cookies from over the years. There is a really useful "Opt-out from all" option here, which lets you remove most (if not all) of these.
And before any of you haters start bashing out comments, understand that this is not about "having something to hide"; it's a much more complicated issue around privacy, freedom of information, and how we are treated as Internet users.