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12 Oct, 2013 14:40

Google-bye to privacy? Users’ faces, names and comments are going in ads

Google-bye to privacy? Users’ faces, names and comments are going in ads

Following in the footsteps of Facebook, anything you post, like, comment or review on Google or tied-in services can in future be used in product endorsement ads.

It means that starting Nov. 11, when Google’s new terms of service go live, all content (video, brands or products) Google+ and YouTube users publicly endorse by clicking on the “+1” or “Like” button can appear in an ad with that person’s image.

Such "shared endorsements" ads will also appear on millions of other websites that are part of Google's display advertising network.

Google+ users will have the ability to opt out by turn the setting to “off,” but at the same time it “doesn’t change whether your Profile name or photo may be used in other places such as Google Play.”

“For users under 18, their actions won’t appear in shared endorsements in ads and certain other contexts,” the announcement on Google’s website reads. 

Another way to “opt out” is just stop “liking”, sharing and publicly checking-in.

Google's move follows a similar change Facebook imposed in August. There it is called “sponsored stories.” It works almost exactly the same way – a recommendation made through the social network’s “like” button appears as advertising endorsement on a friend’s Facebook page.

While both companies say the service will be helpful for users, Google’s revised terms of service have again raised privacy concerns.

"It's a huge privacy problem," Reuters cited Marc Rotenberg, the director of online privacy group EPIC, as saying.

He has called on the US Federal Trade Commission to investigate whether the policy change violates a 2011 consent order that prohibits Google from retroactively changing users' privacy settings.

The announcement also was harshly criticized on Google’s profile, with users expressing dismay and disappointment. Some users suggested they might pull down all their current pictures or change profile pictures.