5-Minute Fixes: A Privacy Checkup to Start the New Year

January 2, 2020
Life in Motion Guide Five Minute Fixes

We had friends over for new year’s eve and we did an early countdown so we could all ring in the new year before they left to put their three-year-old to bed. After the countdown, their little girl was running around, smiling, laughing, wishing everyone a “Happy new you! Happy new you!” I love that.

Today, it’s back to work. 

After several days off work and a significant backlog of things to get done today, I found myself sidetracked into doing a Google “privacy checkup”. This is a guided walk through many of Google’s privacy and data sharing settings. I’ve done it before, and first thing this morning seemed like a good time to review what data is being collected and shared through my browser and other Google apps. (Because otherwise, I have to face: “significant backlog of things to get done today”.) 

I fall somewhere in the middle when it comes to data sharing. I’m a little suspicious of voice search at the moment, but I don’t mind sharing data to enable personalized ads. I have the personalized ads setting turned ‘on’ because I like to discover new products, news, and services. 

I want the information used to drive this “personalized” experience to be right, though.

And because I share my profile and sometimes my devices with my children, the stored data driving the ads I see can be pretty…strange. 

The privacy checkup took me less than five minutes, most of which I spent reviewing my ad settings. This lets you make ads more relevant to you, by allowing you to turn off “interests” Google has derived from your search history. 

It felt good to turn off “Chrysler” (I have zero interest in ads related to the brand or to cars in general!) 

It felt even better to turn off “extreme sports”, “combat fighting”, and “diapering and potty training”. And “cricket”. I’m not into any of these things…anymore. 

I also turned off several “interests” that clearly came from work research activities or one time activities.

A few minutes of virtual house cleaning, and I’m already starting to feel like a “new me”. One that isn’t interested in “convenience stores”, “baby care and hygiene”, or “uber”. One that’s more like the real me, today.

Maybe this was the best way to start my first workday of the year, after all!

Give the privacy checkup a try, and let me know how it goes.

In the meantime, “Happy New You”!

Karen Purze

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Karen Purze

About the Author

Karen Purze

Karen Purze is the author of Life In Motion: A Guide for Gathering Life’s Vital Details, a workbook to help people get their affairs in order. She blogs about end-of-life and emergency planning at lifeinmotionguide.com.

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