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How to fix it when sites show you the wrong ads and recommendations

How to fix it when sites show you the wrong ads and recommendations
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“You might also like…” This mantra is spread all over the internet because different services are always recommending things to you: songs, books, articles, movies, even boots and bed frames. Ads and suggestions seemingly follow you everywhere, and in the case of social media, certain algorithms even control the news and updates you see on your screen.

But online providers can never know you as well as yourself. So how can you make these virtual services smarter? How can you help them appreciate your true tastes, instead of mindlessly aping your browsing history? There are ways to take control and ensure that you’re always getting the suggestions that only a true friend would give.

Here are ways to recalibrate the internet’s most popular services.

1. Amazon

Amazon recommendations are mostly based on your purchases, but the service also uses your search history. So even if you haven’t actually bought an inflatable kids’ pool, Amazon is pretty sure you’re interested in one and can recommend 12 other models.

Tip in a Tip: Many people don’t realize that they may have a public Amazon.com profile that is also tied to their Facebook or Twitter account. Click for the steps to disable this profile and social media preferences.

Maybe you like recommendations, but Amazon hasn’t quite figured you out yet. You can adjust what Amazon thinks you want to see by visiting the "Improve Your Recommendations" page. If you’re not sure where a suggestion came from, you can ask Amazon to explain itself by clicking the "Why recommended?" link below an item.

Both of these give you a chance to view and edit your browsing and purchase history. For purchases, you can rate them to tell Amazon whether you'd like to see that kind of product in the future. You can also rate items while you're browsing to tell Amazon if you want those to factor into future recommendations.

When you're editing recommendations, you'll see two check boxes next to every item. One says "This was a gift" and the other is "Don't use for recommendations." Either one will tell Amazon not to factor that purchase into future recommendations.

2. Facebook

Ever wonder how Facebook guesses the most important parts of your life? The company bases this on which contacts you interact with most. But Facebook sometimes gets it wrong, and you miss important posts. That's why Facebook has added the "See First" option.

Go to a friend's profile page and look for the button that says "Following," (on Facebook Pages, like my Kim Komando Show page, it will say "Liked"). Click the button and select "See First." Whenever this person posts something, it will go right to the top of your feed so you don't miss it.

But let’s say your feed is overloaded with posts you don’t care about. Click here for the steps to weed them out and take control over your account.

3. Google

Google is the great digital vault of information, so you’re probably aware that the company keeps tabs on almost everywhere you go on the internet. This monitoring influences your search results and ads displayed. If you're signed in to your Google account, Google adjusts what you see based on what you've seen in the past.

This practice can be helpful sometimes, or it can keep you from finding new sites and information. If you want to get the upper hand,  click here to see and edit what Google thinks you are interested in seeing.

If Google doesn't remember what you've searched for, it can't use it to predict what you want to see. Click now to learn how to edit your Google search history or wipe it completely.

Another option, if you ever want to see how Google is altering your search results, or just want to get away from them for a search or two, is to open a private browser window and run the search there. It's the same as logging out of your Google account, but then you don't have to go through the trouble of logging back in again.

Next page: More ways to recalibrate the internet’s most popular services
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