Friday, October 11, 2013

With changes to Google's TOS, how to opt-out of being used in its ads

Google announced a change to its Terms of Service on Friday (via the New York Times), and boy, is it a doozy. The changes, which go into effect on Nov. 11, basically allow the Internet giant to use any "endorsements" you might have innocently made (like +1ing something or a "review" on YouTube or in the Play Store) in its own ads.

Using your "endorsement"" also means that Google can use your name. Once the change goes into effect, Google will be able to show what the company calls "shared endorsements" on its own sites and on the over two million sites in Google's display ad network.

Although Google once said -- years ago, when it was sued over its Google Street View service -- that privacy is dead, this is probably going to get people's hackles up.

There is a way to avoid this, however. Go to this page, and ensure that the checkbox next to
Based upon my activity, Google may show my name and profile photo in shared endorsements that appear in ads.
Everyone we've had check the page today has said that the checkbox ix unchecked. Paranoid as we are, we are wondering if the reason it is unchecked is because the TOS has not yet changed. In other words, we wonder if the setting will change after Nov. 11.

Thus, we recommend readers -- assuming they don't want to be involved in Google advertising -- check the page today, and then on both Nov. 11 and Nov. 12 -- or at least Nov. 12.

According to the New York Times report, Google isn't even ready to implement this yet, but it wants to be ready, in case it decides to “create such an ad unit in the future and is [thus] notifying users in advance.”

Facebook, which is in a war with Google over "control," so to speak, of the Internet, has been aggressively marketing such social endorsements. In Facebook's case, however, users are not allowed to opt out of "sponsored stories," as Facebook calls them.

In a horrific example of the potential FUBARs that can occur with such endorsements, a Facebook user became an unwitting pitchman for sex lube after posting a joke on the website.

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