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There is much speculation about the research giant’s privacy policies. To counter this phenomenon, Google has published a Google Privacy Settings Wizard that helps you assess your current settings and make changes where possible.
Google Privacy Settings Wizard
Although the Google Privacy Settings Wizard is explicit, here is an overview of what it does and does not do. When you open it, you will first be directed to the first page of the wizard, where you will be prompted to start working.
On the first page, you can check your Google Plus account. Today, Google Plus allows you to create a profile when you sign up for a new account. For older users, existing information is used to create a Plus account for them. For example, the biography is copied from their Blogger accounts into the Google Plus biography.
The wizard will help you see what is shared through Google Plus. It says that the Google Plus profile image, name and cover image (the huge image behind your profile photo) cannot be kept secret and are visible to anyone visiting your Google Plus page.
On the same page, you will also find a link to view your Google Plus profile as a visitor. It is good to click on this link and check what your profile looks like for others. It will give you an idea of what is shared and what is not.
If you scroll slightly down on the same page, you will see a series of check boxes. The check boxes indicate that the information on the check box labels is shared. Some examples are your YouTube videos, your +1s, your photos, etc. Click to turn off items you do not want to share.
Another checkbox allows Google to use your publicly shared images as wallpapers for its wallpaper notes on products, etc. To prevent Google from using your public photos for its own services, clear the Do not show my publicly shared Google+ photos as wallpapers in Google products and services check box.
You can also turn off automatic face recognition and prevent it from being marked on your products. It’s not just some kind of burglary, I guess Google has a copy of your face drawing in its database. Disabling this option will not remove your face from Google’s database, but it will make it much better for users because they won’t be able to identify you or someone like you in every photo that others upload.
Shared support in Google search
Directly below the checkboxes, there is a link in all upper case letters to edit the shared notes in Google. Shared notes show a line from you on each product or location to your friends. You may have used Google Maps and Google Places and left a comment. If a friend is looking for the location, they will see your comment next to other information about that location. For example, you checked a restaurant and left a comment. Google will use your comment to promote this restaurant to your friends. Although it is up to you to turn it off, I suggest you turn it off because it betrays your privacy and tells people what you have visited everywhere.
Just uncheck the checkbox that says Google can display my profile name, profile picture and activity in shared notes that appear in ads. Click DONE to return to Google’s privacy wizard.
This part is the main part of the assistant. The other steps of the wizard are much shorter and just as important.
Helping people connect with you
The subheading above is the same as the one in the subheading of the Privacy Assistant. You will be asked if you want us to find you with your phone number. It also allows you to change your phone numbers.
Customize your Google experience
The third section above appears in the Google Privacy Settings Wizard. The purpose of this section is to collect your information and show you articles/advertisements about your locations, interests, etc.
Each element has a downward pointing arrow that is clickable and expandable, as shown in the figure below. You can develop any element and allow or prevent Google from collecting information about that element.
You can click Manage Activity to check the activity recorded by Google based on the item you reviewed. This option allows you to delete or retain the information.
Managing custom ads in Google
The last section of the Google Privacy Settings wizard is about managing custom ads. You’ll be surprised what he knows – especially in the interest section that appears when you click MANAGE YOUR ADS PARAMETERS. After making changes to the room, you can close the window.
You can access Google’s Privacy Settings Wizard at myaccount.google.com.
Even with Google’s Privacy Settings Wizard, much of what is and is not really shared is unclear. For example, your location – Google will follow you even if you opt for interest-based advertising. Does Google read emails to provide you with relevant ads? Why doesn’t Google Plus hide the YouTube page you have, and if so, how do I access the setting? Some questions remain unanswered. But the wizard is a welcome step because it shows that Google tries to help you sort a lot of things, if not all.
Find out what Google knows about you.