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Keeping your secrets safe on Amazon, Google, Facebook and Netflix

Keeping your secrets safe on Amazon, Google, Facebook and Netflix
photo courtesy of SHUTTERSTOCK

When a relationship gets serious, we start to share more of our lives. We borrow each other’s cars. We move in together. Inevitably, we start sharing each other’s technology and even our passwords.

But your device says a lot about you: Your pastimes, your taste in music, your curiosities and the things you shop for. So how do you maintain your privacy online, even with the people who are closest to you?

Here are a few simple tricks to help you keep your secrets under wraps. (Note: Apps and websites do not always work the same across all devices and operating systems. If something isn’t located in the menus precisely as I say, look around for a similar action.) 


Amazon tracks not only what you have purchased, but also what you have browsed. If you share an Amazon account, both can pose a major problem especially this time of year.

The good news is that you can easily cover your tracks. To erase your browsing history, from your account settings, look for Personalization. Go to Personalized Content >> View and Manage Your Browsing History. Here, you have a few options. You can remove only certain items or all items as well as turn off browsing history so you never have this issue again.

Let’s say you want to make it more difficult for someone to find out what you have ordered. Amazon will not completely delete your order history, but you can archive individual orders. Casual snoops will have a harder time seeing what you have purchased. From your account settings, go to Your Orders. Select the item you wish to hide and select Archive order.

You can use the Amazon app as an additional holiday security measure. Suppose you have purchased a pair of shoes for your spouse, you’ve archived the order, and now you’re waiting for the package to arrive. But you’re receiving so many boxes this time of year, how do you know which delivery to open and wrap?

With the Amazon app, you can scan the barcode on the box to immediately find out what’s inside. It works like a charm – unless your spouse has secretly ordered something for you!

By the way, Amazon has added a slew of new benefits for Prime members from unlimited photo storage to free eBooks. Click here for seven Amazon Prime perks you’re probably not using.


Google often auto-completes your search terms based on personal information, such as your location and previous searches. Anyone looking over your shoulder or borrowing your device might be surprised by the guesses Google makes. Google products that collect your information include Chrome, Google Maps and YouTube.

To delete your search history on Google, you need a Google account. Just log in, go to My Activity, and remove items individually.

Better yet, take control of the data Google saves about you. Click here for step-by-step instructions on how to stop Google from collecting data about you.

Most browsers have a similarly easy way to delete your browsing history, and the controls tend to be in your browser’s preferences. Keep this in mind, especially if you’re researching something a little unusual.

Next page: Facebook, Netflix and other areas to consider

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