Every time you visit a website or blog that has Google Adsense ads on it you are being tracked. As soon as you visit that site what’s known as a “cookie” will be placed on your computer. This cookie acts kind of like a tracking device that can now see everywhere you go online, and it draws analysis from the different websites you like to visit. This way if you have just visited a lot of sites about hunting you should see more ads about hunting as well, even if the page you are on has nothing to do with hunting at all.
Some people really like the DoubleClick DART cookie and enjoy seeing advertisements that they are actually interested in, while others see it as an invasion of privacy. And Google is very familiar with having privacy issues with its massive database of information that it keeps on its users. Google does give its users the option to opt out of its DoubleClick cookie program, but most users don’t even know it exists. In fact, it seems like the search engine sultan has gone out of its way to make sure that its users blissfully search the internet without having any idea that their browsing habits are being tracked with this software.
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The opt out button is found under the “privacy” page that most people ignore since it is at the bottom of the page. And still, if someone doesn’t realize his internet browsing is being tracked he probably will not be searching for a way to opt out of it.
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So should you opt out of Google’s cookie tracking? It really depends on your perspective. If you like seeing ads that are relevant to what you are interested in, then perhaps you will not mind being tracked. But if you are worried that a private company has all the information on what sites you visit (or your friends or family visit who use your computer), then it might be a little troublesome to know that you have no control over how this data is used. Sure, it looks helpful when they are showing you ads about products you were just searching on. But if you are like me and you search a wide variety of topics on a daily basis, it might even be annoying that Google is showing you ads that its computer thinks you will like.
Google’s DoubleClick DART cookie follows you around online and uses all this information to determine what ads it needs to show you, but this technology could also lead to someone else spying on you. Anyone who uses your computer can tell what kind of sites you like to visit be seeing what Google ads show when they see any particular page with Adsense ads on it. And if your computer is being used by more than one person, these ads prove to be more cumbersome than helpful.
Most of us just want to avoid advertising online anyway. We tend to want to fast forward the commercials we see on TV, so why would we want to see more advertising when we are browsing online? This has caused many to wonder why they would want to help Google advertise to them when they just want to be left alone to enjoy their own privacy.
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It’s up to you if you want to opt out of Google’s cookie tracking on your computer. Just click on the “privacy” link at the bottom of Google’s homepage and then find “advertising” on the left hand column. The next page will show you the opt out button to get your privacy back when surfing online. It would have been nice if the company were a little more transparent in how it handles our information, but they could have at least made it easier to find that opt out button.