It's no exaggeration to say that the highly anticipated Amazon Prime Day was a major success. The online retailer's sales for its two-day Prime event surpassed those of Black Friday and Cyber Monday combined.
Now, Amazon is offering to give back a tiny portion of the money you spent on Prime Day -- but there's a catch. It will pay you if you meet certain criteria and only if you let them track you around the web.
Before you sign up for the deal, make sure to carefully read the fine print first because you may end up giving away more than your getting. We'll explain the deal to you and how you can protect yourself.
Amazon wants to track you
Amazon Prime members, new and old, who downloaded the Amazon Assistant browser extension are being offered a $10 credit after they place a $50+ order. During Amazon Prime Day, when traffic on the site was high, the company was making a hard push for the installation of the Amazon Assistant browser extension, which allows users to keep track of wishlists, purchases and comparison shop.
It's only $10 bucks, but money is money, right? You may think twice about accepting that offer once you read the fine print on Amazon Assistant.
In non-lawyer speak the fine print says Amazon Assistant collects and processes browsing information (URLs, search terms, search results, page metadata, and limited page content) but only if you interact with any Amazon Assistant feature. Amazon Assistant does not connect the data to your Amazon account.
Let's say you're looking for a TV to buy and search Amazon for the product and then bounce over to Best Buy's website to see what it has to offer. If you completely bypassed Amazon Assistant during the process your information will not be tracked.
The $10 offer obviously is meant to entice people to download Amazon Assistant so it can track your purchases and browsing information. If you downloaded Amazon Assistant more than a year ago, they've been tracking you too, but you only got $5. If you downloaded the extension when it was launched in 2016, you got bubkus.
Disable tracker and still get paid
Amazon Assistant does offer some nice features. You can build a wishlist and get alerts if prices change. If you're shopping on another site and see something you like, you can drop it into your Amazon wishlist.
Finally, as an example, if you are searching on a competitor's site and you want to see how they're pricing Amazon's Echo Dot, the Amazon Assistant will actually put a banner at the top of your browser so you can see Amazon's prices for related items.
If you want to use Amazon Assistant but not be tracked, the fine print tells you how you can control what kind of data is collected by disabling features.
Here's how to do it.
When you open your Amazon Assistant you will see a Gear symbol in the top left corner. Click the gear symbol.
That will take you to Amazon Assistant Settings. Click on Configure Comparison Settings.
Move all the Toggles to the off position and Amazon will no longer collect the data.
Hey, maybe you can get money for nothing.
When news about the $10 deal first dropped, the president of Ghostery, makers of a popular browser extension that thwarts tracking, said Amazon Assistant would also monitor activity on social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.
A spokesperson for Amazon disputed that claim, emphasizing that the company does not collect data from social networking sites.
“Customer trust is paramount to Amazon and we take customer privacy very seriously," the spokesperson said. "Amazon does not collect data on a customer’s entire web browsing history ..."
So how will Amazon use data collected through Amazon Assistant? A technologist at the nonprofit Electronic Frontier Foundation, which works to promote internet civil liberties, told Reuters that the type of data Amazon was collecting "is often used for training machine learning models to do better ad targeting."
If you still want that $10 credit, you have to download Amazon Assistant by 12 p.m., Pacific on July 30. The $10 credit expires at 12 p.m. Pacific Time on Aug. 2.
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