Do You Want Google Using Your Name And Face In Ads?

    October 15, 2013
    Chris Crum
    Comments are off for this post.

Google announced a new update to its terms of service the other day that is unsurprisingly ruffling some feathers. The change enables Google to use users’ profile names and photos across Google products as it sees fit. You know, like in ads. Other changes include a reminder about mobile device safety and details on password confidentiality.

Do you mind if Google uses your name and profile picture in ads across its products? Let us know in the comments.

“We want to give you – and your friends and connections – the most useful information,” Google says of the changes. “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. On Google, you’re in control of what you share. This update to our Terms of Service doesn’t change in any way who you’ve shared things with in the past or your ability to control who you want to share things with in the future.”

Yeah, but when has that ever stopped people from freaking out? Google is still trying to convince some countries that its big privacy policy consolidation from last year is all fine and good.

“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,” Google says. “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.”

Google shared endorsements

Google calls the recommendations “shared endorsements,” and has a place where you can go to adjust your settings, and control whether or not your image and name appear in ads. It does appear to be enabled by default, so you may want to check that out. Google does say that if you have told Google in the past that you don’t want your +1s to appear in ads, then they’ll continue to respect that.

Note, however, that the setting only applies to use in ads. It has no effect on where your name and image might appear on other Google products. Keep last year’s changes in mind. Google can use data about you from one of its products to the next. If you’re a YouTube user, you’re a Google user. If you’re a Google search user, you’re also a YouTube user (because that’s part of Google). If you’re a Gmail user, you’re a Google user. You get the idea.

Google also says that for user under 18, they won’t appear in shared endorsements in ads and “certain other contexts.”

Google+ still doesn’t have ads on it the way Facebook does, but this highlights how Google is able to use the profile, which is the backbone of Google+ as a way to improve its ads elsewhere.

The new terms will go into effect on November 11th. You can read the actual ToS here.

Google has notified users of the changes via a Google+ notification:

New Terms

The changes have already drawn suspicion from at least one senator, who has called upon the FTC to look into Google’s practices.

Senator Ed Markey (D-MA) wrote to FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez, asking her to look into whether or not Google’s new terms violate its previous agreement related to its settlement over the Google Buzz debacle. Here’s the letter:

Dear Chairwoman Ramirez:
Yesterday, Google proposed changes to its Terms of Service. The company’s proposed new policy will soon make it possible to display users’ names, photos, and endorsements of marketers’ products across the Web. This shift in Google’s policy raises a number of important questions about whether Google is altering its privacy policy in a manner inconsistent with its consent agreement with the Commission and, if the changes go into effect, the degree to which users’ identities, words, and opinions could be shared across the Web.

Under the new advertisement policy, called “shared endorsements”, users’ names and pictures, along with their ratings or comments, could appear in advertisements on any of the millions of Web sites that comprise Google’s display advertising network. For example, if a user follows a restaurant on Google Plus, that user’s name, photo, and positive endorsement may be displayed in advertisements for that restaurant that friends and others see.

I understand that, according to Google’s Terms of Service Update: “When it comes to shared endorsements in ads, 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.” Nevertheless, Google’s Update continues: “This setting only applies to use in ads, and doesn’t change whether your Profile name or photo may be used in other places such as Google Play.”

Moreover, in addition to being an opt-out mechanism, Google’s announced privacy changes come over two years after the company reached a settlement with the Federal Trade Commission. In that matter, the Commission had alleged that Google used deceptive tactics and violated its own privacy promises to consumers when Google Buzz was launched in 2010. Google and the FTC agreed on a settlement that bars the company from future privacy misrepresentations; requires Google to implement a comprehensive privacy policy; and initiates regular, independent privacy audits of the company for the next two decades.

I respectfully request the Commission’s views on whether Google’s planned changes violate the settlement agreement. I also request that the Commission provide me with information about any actions it has taken or plans to take to investigate whether Google’s proposed changes to its privacy policy violate its agreement with the Commission.

Thank you for your attention to this important matter. If you have any questions, please have a member of your staff contact Joseph Wender at 202-224-2742.

Edward J. Markey

Are you okay with Google’s changes? After all, they do let you opt out of showing up in ads. Do the changes enable Google to improve its products? Share your thoughts in the comments.

Note: This article has been expanded from its original form.

Images: Google

  • Seth Mclake

    Like I needed another reason not to use Google+

    • http://jameswilkins.net James

      Facebook is doing this already is it not? I’ve seen ad postings or pages with my friends faces or names on them. I imagine this is more of an issue with those in high school who may become bullied or teasted because they “liked” something. “Opt in” is only good if absolute across the board. As well, this should be off by default. If I recall, doesn’t adware install with spyware by default unless you opt-out? So I guess Google is adware now? 😉

  • Tim

    Tell people you know to use:

    – Firefox
    – Adblock Edge (not Plus)
    – Ghostery
    – Startpage.com (search engine
    – Not to use any Google services: Chrome, Gmail, Search, Youtube (or with a fake account) etc.

    Declare war on Google.

  • John

    As much as I hate google for it’s anti privacy. And that I do not use them. There are unfortunately too many people who are sucked in to google, because they produce candy that people love. And unfortunately they don’t care about the price they pay for the candy. It’s only their privacy. Then there are the insidious high moral ground do-gooders who will preach that if you have nothing to hide, why should you care. I say to those people, if I have nothing to hide, what the hell is it to do with you.

  • http://Mabuzi.com Kevin

    Once a company removes your choices for opt out them they dont care anymore.
    Maybe I should change my DOB.

  • http://www.rameezulhaq.com M. Rameez Ul Haq

    some people are going to declare war against google, but I am seeing a bright future for Google after these updates… Some people wants to see their name in Search 😀 But beleive me this is good for optimization!

  • Florence

    I think this is pure invasion of privacy. This is what all these rich companies were ordered to do – to know your every move, to be able to spy and know what you do and what you think. It doesn’t matter that you don’t do anything wrong. What matters is that all these big corporations enter your private life purposely and you become more and more vulnerable and dependent on them. This is what they want. They don’t give you space to breathe freely, they want you all.

  • http://sukdik.com Pete

    Nothing new here. Facebook has already been doing this for a while. If you don’t want your picture out there, then don’t upload it to google or facebook.

  • http://weddingminister4u.webs.com Greg Lugn

    Only w/ my prior permission & notification as to what exactly my pic would be used on/in.

  • http://niallflynn.com Niall Flynn

    Hate this stuff, why can’t they just sell the services they have rather than constantly trying to squeeze the Ad revenue dollars, so pointless and my prediction is they will be AltaVista in 10 years, please stop turning all the internet into facebook, please…

  • Scott

    I’m probably one of the few people on the planet that doesn’t have a personal social media profile. I never trusted Facebook or Google so I never signed up. With all of the privacy concerns and what looks like user exploitation, I’m glad that I don’t use those sites. My recommendation is for people to refrain from using social media sites as much as possible because you never know what they will do with your information in the future. I’m sure that those that are using Google Plus never imagined Google would use their profile and photo to force and endorsement to Google Ads.

  • Myrna

    NO WAY do I want to be connected to any ads on facebook or any other site.

  • http://soshowcases.com Martin

    Hell No! I have already deleted my Gmail account and moved back to hotmail. I also started using msn and yahoo again……Google is getting far to big and powerful!

  • http://www.atlasnet.ro Stefan

    Google+ is not mandatory, but a free to use service.
    As any free product the investor can change the policy how it sees fit in order to optimize his advertising campaigns.
    I do not think Google will not lose g+ users because of this change in advertising.

  • Ron

    Absolutely NO!!!

  • http://ri-website-designers.com Mike A.

    No thanks. I don’t want my personal likes/dislikes etc available to people in my business life. And if one of my friends or family want my opinion on something, they can just ask.

  • http://juliaoreilly.com Julia

    I am so absolutely unqualifiedly flat out NOT ok with this, opt out or no. Especially since the opt out big G offers is messy, slippery and ill-defined.

  • http://juliaoreilly.com Julia

    ps: thanks, Chris, for your well-investigated and insightful article, and for the resources.

  • Me phill

    no chance Google are going too far, surely they make enough to pay models or us for the use of our photos.

  • http://businessbrokers.co.nz,officesforsale.co.nz Darcy Snowden

    I’m here to do business, furthermore I make no apology should anyone be offended by this attitude; so in that context if it helps with my business and millions get to know me, great

  • IMBack?

    Here’s an idea, one that I have done since day 1:

    1. Get a realistic pic
    2. Adopt a psuedonym
    3. Use it unwaveringly for all your marketing related social accounts, wherever required.

    As far as using your real info and allowing your name and pic to show up on ads on G+ or otherwise, well that is as they say, just plain stupid. IMO of course. Have a nice day.

    You know what you find when you search my name? Nothing. And that is just how I like it. Until the day these companies are going to pay me for helping to further their corporate goals that is exactly how it will stay.

  • http://www.cirjconcepts.com Charles Jester

    I think it is a mixed bag. With experienced users this should not be a huge deal as they understand where and how to go about opting out if they wish. On the other hand, many of our clients would not clearly understand what they need to do and how it will truly affect them. I think these new features should be rolled out where you opt in rather than opting out.

  • http://stickisms.com Dwight Stickler
  • http://www.uratsyaraf.com Beng Suriatman

    Maybe the world will be END..!!!

  • James Cousineau

    We must always keep in mind – at the forefront – that “You don’t get something for nothing”.

    Google Search, You Tube, Gmail, Google maps, and Google+, are all “free” to use. Something has to “pay the piper” for all these services. They are great, and the Google search services, Google maps, You Tube, and Gmail, are used by multi-millions of people worldwide – every day. They are also reliable and easy to use.

    The vast majority of “We, the people” throw caution to the wind and use these services and social networking as if it is all private conversations and like talking to your family and friends.

    But, Big Brother is watching you and so are those that do not have good intentions. Protecting your privacy by opting out of sharing, whenever possible, and blocking personal information from public view is wise due diligence.

    Enjoy the Internet – it is an awesome place to be – but don’t walk through a dark and strange neighbourhood unprotected.

  • http://wamobileit.com Eric March

    Hell no! it’s a violation of privacy! they need to do a thing like a release form that you agree to like when media asks you to sign a release.

  • http://facebook LEORA


  • Cliff Newman

    Yes I mind. Protective services have worked hard to protect me and now goggle is going to undo all of the government agent’s work to protect me. Think I’ll sent the assassins who have failed to murder me the past 40 years a message that goggle management are my personal friends.

  • http://ChefLeeZ.com Chef LeeZ

    There is no privacy on the internet,never has been! Do you use your real name? Your real picture? Do you share intimate personal moments (like a diary)on the net? If you answer yes to any of these then I gotta say you are so stupid!

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  • http://www.freewebs.com/sury123 V.S.SURY

    No, I do not mind.

  • http://www.aditmicrosys.com/ Hemang Shah

    Good news.. If the Google provide this facility.

  • http://www.micronesoft.com Gopu Bisht

    I Think this is a nice step by Google. It will be beneficial for google in future. But One thing is here I am not happy with Google’s anti privacy security option. Google have to think about it also.

  • http://www.strategik.co.uk Strategik

    Agree with Greg Lugn.
    I would only agree if Google was to ask for permission first, then be able to track where the details go to, and allow the myself or who ever it is to see the same results.
    There are plenty of cases where dating sites are illegally using people faces, name and locations to setup fake accounts on their own dating sites, to make it look they have a bigger user list and pretty faces.

  • Marina

    Google has no rights of doing this without peoples’ permission. It’s illegal!

  • Ralphie

    Google is overstepping its bounds, but then again Google thinks it owns and controls everything, including you and your likeness!

  • http://mybirddepot.com dennis pyrch

    This is an over reach of power.It is a blatant disregard for the people who use them
    someone with a human conscience would know this instinctively and would be ashamed to do it.

  • http://justsayinmypiece.com Charlie

    Well, I’m not really in favor of anyone selling my comments with my profile pic and other personal info…without offering something to ME, y’know? Why isn’t my content good enough for Adsense nano-pennies or other form of payment for using my material?

    I think what will happen is less people will be providing comments and reviews (or other things they want to use in ads) in some places; and, some content producers may opt-out of letting Google use their name, etc.

    I think we’re seeing some major changes looming re: online copyrights and what IS or IS NOT ‘copyright-able’, y’know? I’m just sayin’…

  • Allyson

    Definitely not. I don’t want to be a part of it period.

  • Elizabeth

    No I do not want google using my name and profile….So Please Don’t …

  • Elizabeth

    No I do not want google using my name and profile….So Please Don’t …

  • Elizabeth

    No I do not want google using my name and profile….So Please Don’t …

  • Elizabeth

    No I do not want google using my name and profile….So Please Don’t …

  • Elizabeth

    No I do not want google using my name and profile….So Please Don’t …

  • Elizabeth

    No I do not want google using my name and profile….So Please Don’t …

  • http://Mabuzi.com Kevin

    Your privacy and data traded for money and you dont get a comission let alone a choice.

  • http://childrenbeddingtoytown.com Tina Nyary

    This is ridiculous, what stupid things is Google dreaming up next? Obviously they have nothing better to do!
    Instead of helping people Google seems to enjoy being the devil’s advocate and throwing bricks when ever possible in front of our feet for us to stumble over it!

    I just don’t understand why they don’t design a way to be of service to the public even if they would charge a small fee for it at least it would stop the stumbling in the dark.

    They have taken the former page rank icon away, which one could download onto ones desktop and which then would show the page rank of every given website as soon as one would open it up, which was ideal.
    I would pay for it to get it back!
    Furthermore, to increase ones page rank is now virtually impossible, I wonder why???

    I find Google has become so big that they have absolutely no regards or care in any way shape or form for the average user or the small business website owner. Google lives to make our life as difficult as possible! The word “SERVICE” is totally absent in their vocabulary!

    If you wish to publish my comments feel free to do so, but of course without my website address.
    I enjoy your website newsletter – first class!
    Best regards,

  • Pizzaman7

    Time to lower my digital footprint. after I delete my Google profile I will only have Facebook and LinkedIn left. I might keep LinkedIn but leaning towards getting rid of Facebook.

    My new server is almost ready to start putting Exchange on it. Enough of this cloud crap. I will maintain my own !

  • https://www.searchen.com/ John Colascione

    Opted out of that as soon as I had the opportunity to do so. Don’t need myself used to endorse any ads, positive or negative.

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    Creating an ambiance is an important aspect of designing a commercial, office or residencial space and lighting is a major contributor in delivering that.

  • Kelly

    Google has gone way beyond the realm of privacy, and is the NSA of the private sector, that is if they are not already conjoined with the Feds