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Opt out of sensitive targeted ads
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Security & privacy

Don’t want to get any more ads for weight loss or dating? Here’s how to opt out

As you search the internet for products or services, companies like Google and Facebook build up a profile of your habits. They use this information to serve you ads that the company thinks will interest you.

While it might be accurate for the most part, there could be some topics that you would rather not see advertised. For example, a vegan or vegetarian wouldn’t want to see ads about meat.  

Fortunately, you have some control over what kind of ads you see. Read on to see how Google makes it easier to opt out of sensitive topics.

Here’s the backstory

Targeted advertising is a lucrative industry, but the companies serving them also need to ensure that it reaches the right audience. Even though Google and Facebook already know a lot about you, they don’t know your daily struggles or concerns.

For example, you could fall into the alcohol or gambling advertising demographic. So, you’ll see those ads unless you tell Google not to show them to you. This was one of the company’s changes from a couple of years ago when it gave users the ability to block certain topics or categories.

Google isn’t the only entity where you can do this. Facebook earlier this year removed the Detailed Targeting options that could include sensitive topics like sexual orientation, religious practices and political beliefs. Facebook will also restrict advertising for alcohol, dating sites, online pharmacies, and cryptocurrencies depending on where you live.

Google is now expanding the list of topics that you can restrict beyond gambling and alcohol sales. The sensitive categories for advertising in Gmail and YouTube now include:

  • Parenting
  • Pregnancy
  • Weight loss
  • Dating
Sensitive ads google
Credit: Google

Just be aware that while you can restrict topics in Gmail and YouTube, it won’t make them disappear from Google Ads in a web browser or Google Shopping.

What you can do about it

Google will only stop showing you sensitive topics once you enable the function. But, digging into the settings, you might be shocked to see just how much the tech giant knows about you or what they think you will be interested in.

Here’s how you can turn off advertising for any topic on Google-based platforms like Gmail, YouTube and Instagram:

  • Go to myaccount.google.com and sign in to your Google account.
  • In the left-hand menu, click on Data & Privacy.
  • Scroll down a bit on the page and click on Ad Settings.
  • The page should display all the data points Google uses to serve you with personalized ads.
  • Go through the topics, and when you spot something that could be sensitive, click on it.
  • Google will give a short explanation of why it thinks you will be interested.
  • If you don’t want to see advertising relating to that topic, click Turn Off.

The new sensitive ad categories for YouTube advertising are at the bottom of the page. Google explains that it will “do our best to limit ads that feature them when you are signed in to your Google Account on YouTube.”

Click on the See fewer button next to the topic to restrict advertising for them.

Keep reading

Google warns of urgent security fix: Update Chrome now

Privacy fix: How to remove your address and phone number from Google search results

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