How to disable Verizon’s creepy web tracking program

Whether you know it or not, you've been auto-enrolled in a program called Custom Experience, a program that allows Verizon Wireless to keep an unwanted eye on your web activity.

NEW YORK CITY, UNITED STATES - 2020/02/20: American multinational telecommunications conglomerate, V...
SOPA Images/LightRocket/Getty Images

If you’re a Verizon Wireless customer, you were recently auto-enrolled (maybe unbeknownst to you) in a new program that allows the network to track your activity, including internet browsing history, app usage and more. The telecom giant introduced Custom Experience and Custom Experience Plus — programs that Verizon says are meant to “tailor content to your interests” — in an email that could very well have been deleted without ever gracing your eyes (after all, who wants to read any email nowadays).

While not uncommon, activity tracking like the kind enabled by Verizon’s Custom Experience programs isn’t exactly a boon for your personal privacy, and, as such, something you may want to disable as soon as you can. But, before we tell you how to do just that...

What information is Verizon collecting?

Verizon’s Custom Experience program is actually a rebranding of Verizon Selects, a Verizon Wireless program launched in 2012 that sent user data out to third-party advertisers. The new program, which every Verizon Wireless user has been automatically enrolled in, claims to keep all collected data internal and safe. Verizon says it keeps web browsing data “for no more than six months” and says it “sells information we use in these programs to others for them to use for their own advertising.” There’s no stated limit to app usage data storage.

(Note: Custom Experience applies only to Verizon Wireless customers, so if you’re only using Verizon Fios, you don’t need to worry about deactivating it.)

The bottom-tier Custom Experience program tracks what websites you visit and your app usage so Verizon can put you into categories like "sports lover" or "outdoor enthusiast” (their examples, not ours). The program tracks domains and subdomains while you’re online — this means Verizon would be able to see you’re visiting the Guides section on Input, but not that you’re reading this article about how to opt-out of its newest tracking program.

The Custom Experience Plus program, which it looks like you do have to consent to (thanks, Verizon), goes a little deeper. If you have this program enabled, Verizon will keep track of device location data, information your Verizon Fios services, and even the phone numbers you communicate with. Verizon doesn’t record your phone calls or read your text messages, but it’ll note who you’re talking to using call logs and keep that information for a year.

How to opt-out of Custom Experience

Auto-enrolling anyone in a tracking service like this is shady, but at least it’s easy to opt-out of the program. If you have all of your login information handy, you can say goodbye to the Custom Experience program in under a minute.

We’re disabling the program through Verizon’s MyVerizon mobile app, but you can also opt-out by logging into your Verizon account on a web browser. The instructions are identical.

The Custom Experience toggle can be found under the “Privacy Settings” menu of your “Account Settings.”
  • Launch the MyVerizon mobile app and sign-in to your account if you haven’t already.
  • From the home screen or the bottom “Account” tab, tap on the cog icon in the upper right-hand corner of the screen to access your “Account Settings” menu.
  • Scroll down just a bit to find the “Preferences” sub-menu and tap on “Manage privacy settings.”
  • You should see a list of devices attached to your account. Unfortunately, there’s no bulk opt-out switch and you’ll have to complete this task for each device. Select the device you’d like to opt-out from this list.
  • The next screen will be the “Privacy Settings” menu. You should see “Custom Experience” and “Custom Experience Plus” on this page, with toggles on the right-hand side of your screen. Make sure both of these toggles are switched to the left — they should be gray instead of a bright green. If you’re looking at this menu on a web browser, it’ll look slightly different. On the web, there will be drop-down menus for the two programs where you can opt-out multiple devices at the same time — just click and fill in the bubble in the “Don’t Use” column to opt-out.