Google To Start Employing User Ratings And Photos In “Shared Endorsements” Ads

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Google is going to start using your beautiful face and your reviews, recommendations and endorsements in its advertisements, beginning November 11, the company announced today via changes to its Terms of Service. The New York Times explains that this will allow the company to show user review for restaurants, for instance, or the fact that you follow a brand page on Google+ in their display ads on the web, which reach around 1 billion users.

Here’s exactly how Google describes the process, as well as how and what data will be used in its updated terms:

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. 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.

The news isn’t all bad: Google provides a way to opt out, allowing you to do so via your Google+ profile, and under-18 users won’t have any of their actions or info shared via ads at all. That’s loads better than Facebook’s policy, which doesn’t allow users to opt out of sponsored stories entirely, and which now also includes a provision that users can no longer remove themselves from search results by name.

Google still does pull off a nasty little farewell trick to those who do opt out of its new Shared Endorsements ad, however. When you opt out, it alerts you that “your friends will be less likely to benefit from your recommendations,” and in the section describing them in its Google+ support site, it notes that “Google won’t be able to share your recommendations with your friends in some cases where they might otherwise see and benefit from them.”

In other words, by opting to not become an asset in Google’s marketing material portfolio, you’re really only hurting those you care about. Thanks for the emotional blackmail, but I’m still unchecking that box, even if all the giant Internet companies are going gaga for “personally relevant” advertising content.