Big Brother is Watching

After reading an article about Google's sprawling influence and the sheer amount of information it gathers, I went to google.com to check my cookie settings (click privacy on the home page, then Ads Preference Manager).  Here's the list of ad categories linked to me.  Some of their choices are a bit random, but on the whole Google knows me disconcertingly well.

Your interests

Below you can edit the interests that Google has associated with your cookie:

Category

Entertainment – Celebrities
Entertainment – Fashion & Modeling
Entertainment – Music – Alternative-Punk-Metal
Food & Drink – Cooking & Recipes
Home & Garden – Gardening
Local – Regional Content – Oceania – New Zealand
News & Current Events
News & Current Events – Newspapers
News & Current Events – Politics
News & Current Events – Politics – Elections & Campaigns
Photo & Video – Photo & Video Sharing
Shopping – Flowers Gifts & Greetings
Social Networks & Online Communities – Blogging Resources & Services
Social Networks & Online Communities – Social Networks
Society – Government & Regulatory Bodies
Sports – Cricket
Sports – Racquet Sports
Sports – Rugby

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8 Responses to Big Brother is Watching

  1. Jack Yan says:

    Goodness, that is really shocking. I went into mine and found a whole bunch, none of which have to do with my likes and dislikes. I’ll be deleting the lot.

  2. Jack Yan says:

    Janette, you can also hop over to the Network Advertising Initiative and opt out of everyone’s cookies, not just Google’s, when it comes to behavioural advertisement targeting.

  3. Janette says:

    Yes, it is a bit shocking to know that they're collecting our browsing and search history and analysing it so vigorously. Thanks for the link. I was going to opt out of google's targeting – but now I'll turn them all off.

  4. Jack Yan says:

    Looking at the cookies on my laptop, there are a lot who are not part of the NAI, which is also worrying. It also seems that one would have to go back to the NAI page every now and then (say six months to a year?) to see which new companies have begun targeting us.

  5. Janette says:

    Cookies, cookies everywhere. Some are useful – it's nice to have your preferences saved for frequently-visited websites. Some are invasive. And for the uninitiated, it can be hard to tell which is which. Firefox lets you decide whether you want to accept and store cookies or not. I'm not sure what IE does.

  6. Jack Yan says:

    I think IE gives you a choice, but I haven’t used it in years. I went and deleted the whole bunch in Firefox on my laptop today. Firefox remembers passwords anyway (presuming one has it set to do so) so it hasn’t been too annoying feeding them back in to some of the sites I visit regularly. As an experiment, I allowed the Google ad ones back for part of the day to see what it would pick up. The preferences are still woefully inaccurate. I wonder what gives it such a wrong idea of what I am in to.

  7. LilTreva says:

    If you have the Firefox browser (which I strongly recommend) then you can get the Ad Block Plus feature, select the group in your region that monitors the ads that include invasive ones and blocks them from appearing on your computer and from collecting your data.A good utility to install on your computer: anti-ad ware and anti spyware program. I've used Adaware, which might still offer a free version. Such programs will recognize invasive bugs, inform you of them when you scan, and then give you the option to destroy them. Some programs help to block the bugs, too.Since I am using someone else's computer while mine is on the fritz, I cannot think of the name of a Firefox plug in that tells you when an analytic code is collecting data during your visit and its source. I frequently encounter Google analytic codes on most pages, including blogs, that I access.

  8. Janette says:

    Thanks for the tips. I do use Firefox so I've installed Ad Block Plus. I did have an anti-spyware program installed for a while but the free version didn't work properly for me. I'll have to do some research and find another one.

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