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How to dumb down your Smart TV so it can't track you

So maybe you snagged a new Vizio Smart TV on Black Friday - or you're hoping to unwrap a big-screen Samsung or LG on Christmas. Amid all the excitement to connect the new device to the Internet and start streaming digital media, don't neglect your privacy settings.

A recent report from ProPublica found that Vizio Smart TVs not only track users' viewing habits, they share the data with third parties.

The "Smart Interactivity" feature is turned on automatically on more than 10 million Vizio TVs. It analyzes portions of what a person watches and links that data to their IP address, a digital identifier shared by other devices in the home including laptops, phones, and even "smart home" appliances like thermostats and door locks.

The data is then shared with Vizio's partners, who could use it to help target ads.

Vizio isn't the first TV maker to be a little too smart for its users' own good. Earlier this year, Samsung was under scrutiny for a privacy policy stating it captures voice commands, text and other usage data from its customers. LG Electronics also has a feature capable of tracking viewing data.

Fortunately, there's a way to turn this feature off. CNET produced a video with complete instructions on how to disable the feature on Vizio Smart TVs.

Consumer Reports has also published details on how to disable automatic content recognition from Smart TVs. Step-by-step instructions are below:

Vizio
  • Select Smart Interactivity under the Systems settings
  • Select the Reset & Admin submenu
  • Select off

Samsung

  • Go to Smart Hub
  • Search for the submenu Terms & Policy
  • Select SyncPlus and Marketing
  • Select the option to disable
  • You can also disable Voice Recognition Services from the 'Terms & Policy' menu

LG Electronics

  • Select Options in settings
  • Open the Live Plus submenu
  • Toggle the feature on and off
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