In a move that’s liable to get privacy advocates up in arms, Google is making changes to its terms of service that could put your kisser smack dab in the center of its next ad campaign.
The search engine giant on Friday announced plans to start including recommendations that Google+ users make in advertisements. The new policy will come into play on Nov. 11, unless the company winds up bowing to the backlash.
“We want to give you -- and your friends and connections -- the most useful information,” Google said in its announcement. “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 made it clear that this only happens when you take an action -- things like +1’ing, commenting or following -- and the only people who see it are the people you’ve chosen to share that content with. Google was quick to add that the update doesn’t change the people you’ve shared things with in the past or your ability to control who you want to share things with in the future.
You Are In Control
“Feedback from people you know can save you time and improve results for you and your friends across all Google services, including Search, Maps, Play and in advertising,” the company said. “For example, your friends might see that you rated an album 4 stars on the band’s Google Play page. And the +1 you gave your favorite local bakery could be included in an ad that the bakery runs through Google. We call these recommendations shared endorsements. . . .”
When it comes to shared endorsements in ads, Google said you can control the use of your Profile name and photo via the shared endorsements setting. If you turn the setting to “off,” your profile name and photo will not show up on that ad for your favorite bakery or any other ads. This setting only applies to use in ads, Google stressed, and doesn’t change whether your profile name or photo may be used in other places such as Google Play.
“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,” Google said. “For users under 18, their actions won’t appear in shared endorsements in ads and certain other contexts.”
Use Common Sense
Google also took the opportunity to remind users of some common sense: Don’t use its services if you are doing something that requires your full attention, like driving -- and be careful with your password.
“Our top priority is keeping your information safe and secure. Your Google username and password let you access lots of useful things -- your Gmail messages, Google+ photos, YouTube videos, Google Contacts list and more,” Google said. “Anyone you give your login details to could use them to access your Google Account and the stuff you store with Google. So if you’re asked for your password, think twice and consider whether there might be safer and more secure ways to share the information.”
Google has also pledged its help. If the company sees anything out of the ordinary, such as failed attempts to log into your account or two log ins to your account within a short time, you may see an unusual activity alert.