Think your accounts are private? Think again

One of the unfortunate realities of the Internet is that companies will track your usage for marketing or other more nefarious purposes. For those concerned about privacy, here are some simple tips to reduce data collection from two commonly used platforms: Google and Microsoft.


Google Privacy SettingBy now, most people are aware that Google generates its considerable profits by tracking its users wherever they go, allowing the tech giant to more effectively sell its advertising space. Not only is using Google hard to avoid, but the site also offers many great extras like Maps, Chrome, and Gmail.

Google has recently added the My Account site, which includes a suite of privacy settings. If you’re one of the many users of a Google account, you may wish to adjust these to increase your protection online. From the My Account page, you can select the ‘Personal info & privacy’ section, which will let you tailor your settings to your preferred privacy level. This includes the Privacy Checkup, a tool that allows you to easily check and adjust your settings.

A word of warning: while these changes may help to protect your privacy, they’re not comprehensive, so you should still take usual precautions.

Microsoft and Windows

Much has been made of Microsoft’s privacy problems, especially since the release of Windows 10.  It’s worth reading the Microsoft Privacy Statement, as you may find more than a few surprises (read it here). One positive innovation of the latest platform, however, has been the Privacy Dashboard, a website designed to help users monitor and adjust their privacy levels.

The dash includes four categories that can be tailored: Personalisation; Apps & Services; Marketing; and Advertising. From the sub-menus, you can manage your preferences and nominate just how much you want (or don’t want) Microsoft to see.

 For those who are tired of relentless advertising and unwanted emails, the Marketing and Advertising settings may be of interest, particularly due to the ability to opt-out of Microsoft’s promotional emails.

Microsoft Privacy Setting

Under the Personalisation screen, you’ll also note the option to adjust your Bing settings. Even if you don’t use the search engine directly, it’s still worthwhile checking. Microsoft is embedding Bing in more of its functions, including as the default tool in Internet Explorer, Edge, and Cortana, the main search feature of Windows 8.10/10.

 Again, while the dashboard is a useful tool, it’s not the only measure you should take to protect your privacy. Even within Windows, there are a number of other places to adjust your settings.

(image source:

Leave a Comment