So there I was, taking a quick look at one of those “Twilight” books on Amazon (for someone else, I swear!) when all of a sudden, my Amazon home page was covered with more Twilight paraphernalia than a Twi-hard could shake a stick at.
We’re talking the complete “Twilight Saga” box set, for starters. Also: a pile of “Team Jacob” buttons. A Bella-themed Barbie doll. A 16-month (?) Twilight calendar. And best of all, a bookmark stamped with the smouldering eyes of Edward himself.
What happened? Amazon scanned my shopping history and cranked out some recommendations—in this case, all based on a few ill-advised minutes of “Twilight” shopping.
Just to be clear, I don’t have anything against “Twilight.” (Hey, I thought the first “Twilight” movie was pretty good; the others, not so much.)
That said, I’d rather not have my Amazon home page plastered with “I Heart Edward Cullen” buttons whenever my cursor gets too close to a “Twilight” book.
Related: How to keep Google from saving your searches in your Web history
Well, good news: Not only can you view your browsing history as Amazon sees it, you can also nix any individual items you may have looked at—or stop Amazon from tracking your browsing habits altogether, at least as far as recommending new products is concerned.
Here’s what you do:
- Visit Amazon.com, then click the Your Account link in the top-right corner of the page. (In case you’re wondering, no—you don’t need to be logged in to your Amazon account to follow the Your Account link. More on that in a moment.)
- Scroll down to the Personalization section (it’s all the way at the bottom), then click the “View and edit your browsing history” link under the “Personalized Content” heading.
- You’ll now see a long list of recent items you’ve viewed on Amazon, complete with “Delete this item” links next to each entry. Don’t want Amazon to remember those Edward Cullen bookmarks you looked at? Just click the “Delete this item” link. You can also wipe your browsing slate clear by clicking the “Delete all items” button in the left column.
- Want to turn off your Amazon browsing history? Go to the “Your Account” page, click the “Your Browser History Settings” under “Personalized Content,” then click the “Turn browsing history off” button.
Oh, and one thing to keep in mind: Your Amazon browsing history is tied to your web browser, not your Amazon.com account. That means if your turn your Amazon browsing history off in Safari, switch to another web browser and then return to Amazon, you’ll have to turn off your Amazon browsing history all over again.
Just because you turn off your Amazon browsing history doesn’t mean Amazon isn’t watching your surfing habits anymore. Like other companies that deal in online advertisements, Amazon deposits a “cookie” on your browser that tracks your surfing for the purpose of serving up personalized ads.
Don’t want to be tracked anymore? Click “Your Account” in the top-right corner of any Amazon.com page, click the “Your Advertising Preferences” link under “Personalized Content,” then click the “Do Not Personalize Ads from Amazon for this Internet Browser” setting.
Have more questions about online shopping, browsing, or privacy? Post ’em in the comments below.