If you use Google services you should know by now that you are the product that is being sold to advertisers. Google gathers your data, compiles it, and sells it to advertising agencies and other companies that find this data useful. In return, users get some really great services. We are not total shills, but these services don’t come without a cost. We are definitely not getting something for nothing. Google has historically been very good about protecting personal information and is pretty open about how they use our data. Not all companies are as open about this. Starting November 11th, Google is changing their Terms of Service again, and you should know what those changes are all about.
This Google Terms of Service update is a pretty big deal. Your profile may start showing up in ads all over the web. Google is calling these ads “shared endorsements” and they will leverage any comments, reviews, follows, +1s or stars that you may have given to a brand or business. This info will be used to create more personal advertising by placing your name, photo and any relevant information in or alongside an ad.
As usual, Google is giving users time to make changes if they don’t want to participate in these personalized ads. If you have already set restrictions on your shared comments, personalized ads will only show up for your friends that are in the Google+ circle where the comment was shared. If you want to opt-out, Google is making that easy as well. All you need to do it head over to the Shared Endorsements settings page and uncheck the box that says “Based upon my activity, Google may show my name and profile photo in shared endorsements that appear in ads.” Then just click “Save” and you’re good to go. I found that this box was already unchecked for me, based on the previous changes I had made to my Google privacy settings. If you previously opted out of +1s, you should find the box unchecked already, too. In addition, Google is automatically excluding all users who are under the age of 18. Because the new ads are not set to go live until November 11th, users have plenty of time to opt-out of this if they want.
Google is always looking for new ways to use our info to make money. That’s how they stay in business, after all. Thankfully, they are transparent with how our data is used and they give us an easy out if we don’t want to participate. Unless it’s the U.S. government asking for our data.