Remember when Google’s default setting was to maximize your privacy? Well, Google doesn’t. The internet’s biggest advertising company has now quietly shifted its baseline privacy behavior, so you’ll want to watch out if you’re creating any new accounts.
As ProPublica explains, Google has shifted the default setting for all new accounts. While you used to have to opt-in to receive specific, personalized, tracking-based advertising, new accounts will have all those privacy-eroding settings enabled from the start.
It’s basically the second step in a change that Google first unveiled back in June, when it opened its one-stop ad-and-privacy-settings shop.
On Google’s Ads Settings page, you can determine whether or not Google is allowed to show you ads based on the interests and activity history it has associated with your profile. There are actually two ads settings pages, and each has a link to the other in the lower left-hand corner tile. “Control signed-in ads” is the toggle for when you are using a browser or device signed in to your Google account; “control signed-out ads” is the toggle to manage ads you see when not signed into Google.
You can also visit Google’s My Activity page to view the records Google has of your behavior across the internet, including which devices you use, what you’ve searched on YouTube, and your web and app activity. Clicking “review” under the history items will take you to the Google Privacy checkup, where you can go through and enable or disable various privacy settings for your Google account, YouTube, and various histories.
Many of those settings contain links to other pages, which in turn contain links, but the My Activity page is, at its core, a node that will get you to all those other controls as long as you follow the breadcrumbs.
However, while any user can choose to opt out, the fact that privacy is no longer Google’s default behavior is a really big deal, ProPublica explains. In a digital world increasingly dominated by Facebook, the ne plus ultra of targeted, focused behavioral tracking and data collection, it has become increasingly common to make a lack of privacy the default. Google’s separation of personally identifiable information and ad data, according to an expert ProPublica spoke with, “was a really significant last stand.”
And now it’s over.
A Google spokesperson told ProPublica that the company is simply responding to changes in the ways consumers interact with the internet. “We updated our ads system, and the associated user controls, to match the way people use Google today: across many different devices,” the rep wrote.
by Kate Cox via Consumerist