Managing Amazon’s ‘interest-based’ ads

Advertisers love to use ‘interest-based ads’, as ‘interest-based ads’ sound a lot nicer than ‘personalised ads’ or ‘targeted ads’ or even ‘customer-profiling’.

But they’re all actually the same thing – despite the different words/terms/marketing.

Amazon’s warning users that it’s using ‘interest-based ads’ with Amazon Music – which is probably another reason not to use Amazon Music, but that’s another post.

Go to  amazon.co.uk/adprefs – or to amazon.com/adprefs (or both if you use both sites).

Turn ‘interest-based ads’ off.

Managing your privacy online #7 – managing Google Chrome’s sync

If you have Chrome sync turned on, you might not be surprised to find out that Chrome syncs far more data about you and what you browse to its servers than you might expect. Go to https://chrome.google.com/sync?hl=en-GB to see what data Chrome’s uploaded for you.

To get rid of this, scroll down to the bottom of the page ’till you see this:

Hit ‘RESET SYNC’ to remove your data. You should probably still turn sync off though…

Managing your privacy online #6 – Chrome tracks the search engines you use

Did you know that Google Chrome keeps track of every time you run a search on a website? I didn’t, ’till I stumbled on the list of webpages when I was looking at my default search engine, and saw a massive list of websites at the bottom of the page.

I did a quick (!) count and Chrome had saved a list of 110 websites I’d done searches on.

Go to chrome://settings/searchEngines

See the section called ‘Other search engines’? It’s a list of every website you’ve done a search on in Google Chrome. If you’re not comfortable with this list, you can easily remove it – you can either delete web pages one by one, or use a script – go to https://superuser.com/questions/1141135/google-chrome-remove-all-other-search-engines#1154955 and follow the instructions. It works!

Managing your privacy online #5 – Google’s Assistant is watching you – even if you don’t think you have an assistant!

I was naive. I thought that since I don’t use Google Assistant, I didn’t need to pay attention to how it used my data. WRONG.

If you go to the https://myaccount.google.com/yourdata/assistant page, you’re greeted by this:

Now look at the highlighted text:

A sting in the tail – there are other unexpected privacy settings here

Scroll down the page and you’ll find this:

You’ll probably want to turn them off.

Managing your privacy online #4 – Google thinks you liked that thing – watch your endorsements!

People like to buy things that their peers like. Google wants to leverage this by using your reviews and comments to support Google advertising and search results.

If you’re not ok with that (and do you think you should decide what you promote, or are you happy to let Google do it…?) go to https://myaccount.google.com/shared-endorsements

Would you like to advertise something without being paid for it??

Turn that sucker off.

Managing your privacy online #3 – Google and your phone number

The easiest way to merge information about individuals is by having a common attribute that can be used to identify and then link information that shares a common feature – email address, phone number, social security number etc.

To limit how Google links data to your phone number go to https://myaccount.google.com/privacycheckup/3?continue=https%3A%2F%2Fmyaccount.google.com%2Fdata-and-personalization

‘Help people connect with you’ should be renamed ‘Help Google link you to your contacts and networks’

In the ‘Help people connect with you’ section make sure these settings are turned off. If you want people to have a (slightly) harder task of finding you with your phone number you should also turn this setting off.

Managing your privacy online #2 – Chrome and contacts

Chrome has a very complicated data model that appears to offer you granular control of your data and how it is managed/saved by Google.

In reality, Chrome’s privacy settings are complicated by design to try and obscure how Google is collecting your data and to effectively limit how you are able to manage that data collection and what Google does with your data .

Go to https://myaccount.google.com/contacts

Do you really want Google to build a network of your friends and contacts?

Turn this OFF.

Managing your privacy online #1 – Chrome and activity tracking

Google makes money by ‘personalising’ your experience. In practice, this means Google aggregates as much of your online and offline activity as it can in order to profile you as accurately as it can. The more accurate the profile, the better it can personalise your experience, and the more accurate the ads Google can target you with… and the more $£€ Google makes (off of you).

Go to https://myaccount.google.com/data-and-personalization, and scroll down to the activity section to see what personalisation settings are active.

You will want to go to each of the three sections and pause ‘personalisation’ – fortunately they’re all actually on the same page at https://myaccount.google.com/activitycontrols .

Santa Cruz Chameleon test ride

I really wanted to like the Santa Cruz Chameleon… but I didn’t.

It’s light, really stiff, and climbs really well (on tarmac or manicured trail/path). Going downhill was a different story – it was super skittish and the rear end *never* stayed down – felt like I was riding a pogo stick.

Specialised Body Geometry gloves

I like well-padded but not unwieldy mtb gloves and these are the best I’ve found. Was great to find a replacement pair as the velcro on my old ones had given out – which is why I’d avoid gloves (or anything actually) with small velcro closures.

Unfortunately a) hard to find, and b) not quite as comfortable as the pair they replaced due to the different padding design and composition.