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Yahoo! launches an ad manager and privacy tool

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Yahoo! calls it the Ad Interest Manager, but at its heart it’s a new tool for managing your privacy online. And it’s very easy to use.

Here’s how the Associated Press’s Joelle Tessler describes the Ad Interest Manager, now in beta:

The new tool allows consumers to see a summary of their online activities, including a list of the Web pages they visit and online services they use, such as e-mail and personal finance channels. It also lists a consumer’s areas of interest, with categories such as consumer packaged goods, debt consolidation and automotive.

Consumers can modify their preferences and decline particular types of targeted pitches. It also lets consumers turn off targeted advertising altogether with the click of a bright yellow “Opt Out” link.

Users won’t be rejecting ads altogether, though; at most, behaviorally targeted ads would be replaced with others that aren’t tied to personal surfing habits.

Yahoo! politely points out on the site that its services are free because they are supported by ads. That is indeed something to think about. I am a daily user of the My Yahoo feed reader and have been ever since Yahoo! launched it many years ago. So I felt a little guilty when I clicked on “Opt Out.”

But apparently not guilty enough. It’s not only that I’d like to avoid an ad barrage. I’m uncomfortable with the idea that my searches might be on record and that Yahoo! knows where I live and a whole bunch of other stuff. Of course, so does Google–and probably many (most? all?) of the sites I visit too.

Well, it’s a start. Thanks, Yahoo!

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