November 12, 2013 4:00 pm

Google ‘terms of service’ update allows users profile information to be used in ads

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TORONTO – You may be the next star of a Google advertisement.

Google updated its ‘Terms of Service’ Monday, allowing the company to use its users’ profile information and photos in ads. Google+ users – aged 18 and older – may now see their profiles attached to an ad for their favourite local burger spot, or something as large-scale as an ad for Lady Gaga’s latest album.

The ads will be displayed within Google+, Google search results, and within Google’s advertising network.

The new feature called “shared endorsements,” announced in October, has raised concerns with privacy experts and users. Google touts the new service as a way to get recommendations from friends.

Previously, Google+ users may have seen their profile attached to products that they +1’d – Google’s equivalent to Facebook’s “like” button.

How Google’s “Shared Endorsements” ads may use profile information. (Screenshot, from Google+ account settings page)

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The updated Terms of Service regarding shared endorsements reads:

“If you have a Google Account, we may display your Profile name, Profile photo, and actions you take on Google or on third-party applications connected to your Google Account (such as +1’s, reviews you write and comments you post) in our Services, including displaying in ads and other commercial contexts.”

Those who sign into third-party apps using their Google+ profiles may also see their information appear in ads.

Social networking giant Facebook also uses its users’ profiles in advertisements on its site. For example, you may see your friend’s name and profile photo next to a paid post for a company page that reads “[Friends name] likes this.”

Twitter also uses a similar tactic for “promoted tweets.”

Users are able to opt out of having their profile pictures and names associated with ads.

Google+ users can go to ‘account settings’ and uncheck the box that reads, “Based upon my activity, Google may show my name and profile photo in shared endorsements that appear in ads,” and then click “save” to opt out.


© 2013 Shaw Media

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