The search giant has proposed a few changes to its Terms of Service, including one key change: it now wants to include your Google+ profile photo and reviews in some of its advertising for content and places that you like. Google is calling the feature “Shared Endorsements,” and they want to use your face to automate word-of-mouth.
Here are the details from Google:
- You’re in control: Your content is only shared when you choose, and shared endorsements don’t impact who can see your content or activity.
- To help your friends and others find cool stuff online, your activity (such as reviews, +1s, follows, shares, etc.) may be used along with your name and photo in commercial or other promotional contexts.
- When it comes to shared endorsements in ads, you can choose whether your name and photo may be used to help your friends find stuff you love (and avoid stuff you don’t) — you can control this with the setting at the bottom of this page.
- The name and photo shown in shared endorsements are the public profile name and photo you have chosen on Google+.
Google is going to have to tread carefully, because advertising like this has landed internet companies in hot water in the past. Facebook’s “Sponsored Stories” feature, that advertised to people on your friends list with sites that you liked, brought the class-action hammer down on Facebook. While Google has had time to learn from Facebook’s mistakes, there’s no doubt privacy advocates will be watching Google’s implementation to make sure the company treats users fairly.
To opt out of having your endorsements shared go into your Google+ settings, and click the “edit” link next to Shared Endorsements. At least in my case, the setting was off by default, but it never hurts to check.
Blair Hanley Frank is a technology journalist based in the San Francisco Bay Area. He has also worked for Macworld, PCWorld and TechHive. He can be found on Twitter @belril.