Google Has Decided Its Latest Product Is YOU! (And How to Opt Out)

Did you know Google is about to sell your name and picture to advertisers targeting your friends? Yup. It’s all in Google’s new TOS.

The change in Google’s Terms of Service announced two days ago are right up there with Linden Lab’s recent TOS change allowing it to grab the rights to use and sell all the content you create in Second Life. Google’s new TOS take effect November 11.

Opt Out Here

If all of this sounds a bit like organized prostitution, go here now and opt out. [Be sure to scroll to the bottom of the page to find the opt-out toggle box.] We’ve  got a month to complain before it takes effect, but our track record on changing Google’s mind is not impressive.


Do We Get Paid for This?

Of course not. What Google is giving you is priceless: the satisfaction of knowing that you are helping the people you care about. In equally priceless  techspeak, Google calls this change “shared endorsements.” The idea is if you +1 an item, post a review, or recommend a product, Google will sell an ad to the maker of that product – who will feature your name and picture in their ad! The name and photo shown in shared endorsements are the public profile name and photo you have chosen on Google+.

To ensure that your recommendations reach the people you care about, Google sometimes displays your reviews, recommendations and other relevant activity throughout its products and services. This sometimes includes shopping contexts …  and ads. Your profile name and photo may appear with the recommendation.

Spin Cycle

Google’s spin on its latest privacy invasion is that the change will “help friends find stuff you love.”Google explains in its TOS summary:

We want to give you – and your friends and connections – the most useful information. Recommendations from people you know can really help. So your friends, family and others may see your Profile name and photo, and content like the reviews you share or the ads you +1’d.

Google Will Be Careful

Google claims these ads will be triggered only  when you take an action ( like +1’ing, commenting, following) – and the only people who see the ads are the people with whom you chose to share the +1’d content with. I imagine this means people will be a lot more sparse with their +1’s, more guarded who they admit to their circles, and we’ll all spend our weekends tweaking G+ privacy settings. It’s a shame that big companies’ changes in TOS almost always make me want to use them less.

The Google Is Thorough

Google plans to plaster your recommendations “across all Google services” –  including Search, Maps, Play and in advertising. Search? Maps? OMG. Will there be any content left underneath all the ads?

I’ve Got a Question

Google says: “If you previously told Google that you did not want your +1’s to appear in ads, then of course we’ll continue to respect that choice as a part of this updated setting.”

What Google is referring to here are “social annotations” in ads where advertisers crow about their following, as in “Johnny Depp and 37 others +1’d this product.” I have tried and tried to figure out how the user can opt out of being one of that crowd. You can keep your friends from being spammed in their feeds with notices of your +1 activity here, but that’s not the same thing. Can anyone figure it out? You can start here. And tell me in the Comments below. Thanks so much!


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