News broke this week that beginning November 11th, Google will start using your images and opinions in ads. That’s right, if you post a picture, +1 a business or product on Google+ or post a review on Google + Business or Local, Google can use that info for advertisers’ benefit. The program is called Shared Endorsements, and Google disclosed it in this week’s Terms of Service update:
If you have a Google Account, we may display your Profile name, Profile photo, and actions you take on Google or on third-party applications connected to your Google Account (such as +1’s, reviews you write and comments you post) in our Services, including displaying in ads and other commercial contexts. We will respect the choices you make to limit sharing or visibility settings in your Google Account. For example, you can choose your settings so your name and photo do not appear in an ad.
That’s bad news, and very much like what Facebook does. Google has until now done a pretty good job of acting like a middleman, serving you information when you want it. It has been a little more heavy handed with Gmail but there has been little user backlash. The only exception to this policy is that it doesn’t apply to users under 18.
There probably won’t be much backlash for this either, but if you want to opt out, there is a way. To turn off Shared Endorsements, go to this Google+ page and unclick the box as pictured below, or go to your Google Accounts page and switch the Shared Endorsements option to “off”. By the way, Google’s privacy settings are head and shoulders better and easier than Facebook’s.
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