If you use any of Google’s services like Gmail, Google+, or YouTube, you could soon find your personal information used in advertisements for Google products. New changes to Google’s user terms of service have changed how the search engine giant uses your private information.

The new Google terms of services means you could see your photo endorsing certain products and services via Google ads. Let’s take a look at what the change in terms of service means for Google users and why privacy advocates are sounding the alarm.


New Terms of Service: What it Means to Google Users

Google makes money by selling advertising space (AdWords) to businesses, and marketing those ads through Google services — in other words, they’re the ads you see whenever you search on Google or check Gmail in your browser. Naturally, Google is developing new ways to generate revenue through its AdWords platform, hence the  “user sponsored” ads.

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The endorsed ads will draw friend data from your Gmail, YouTube, and Google+ accounts.

By utilizing users of Google’s service to promote or endorse ads, Google can increase their revenue. What’s essentially going on here is that products are more successful when people you know promote them — so Google wants to use you to sell ads to your friends and family.

Here’s what The Verge has to say about the change to Google’s terms of service:

First reported by the New York Times, the change categorizes a user’s follows, comments, and +1s as “shared endorsements” for a product or service. These shared endorsements can be used to build ads across the platform, pulling in a user’s profile name and photograph to help boost the ad’s credibility.”

Of course, the idea of having users “promote” or “endorse” ads isn’t new or exclusive to Google. Facebook implemented a new advertising model where users are used to promote businesses they have liked on their friends wall, and the social media giant has often come under fire from privacy watchdogs for this practice.


Will Your Face Appear in Google Ads?

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Luckily, you can opt out of the terms of service changes within your Google user profile settings.

At this time, it’s not clear what these new Google ads will look like. However, the new terms of service allows users’ social information to be included in the shared endorsements.

Starting on November 11th, users will see sponsored ads on Google’s homepage and within search results.

Here’s how Google breaks it down:

“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.”

So will your face appear in Google ads? Yes, but right now only in ads displayed to your family and friends — essentially, only people who are within your Google “social circle” drawn from your Gmail, YouTube accounts, and Google+. It’s very similar to how Facebook has implemented promoted posts on the Friend Wall.

For now, though, Google is still giving users the ability to opt out of these personalized ads. Check your Google profile settings to disable this.


What Do You Think?

Do you use Google services? Are you concerned about how this new policy might affect you? Let us know in the comments section.


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About The Author

Sean O'Connor is a writer and graduate from Loyola Marymount University. He is a self-described hoops fanatic who resides in Pasadena.

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