Google has sparked more privacy controversy with new Facebook-style ads that include user names and photos, as the internet giant looks to make its ads more social and personalised.
Under the new scheme, Google can add users’ name, photo and product reviews posted through its social network Google+ in ads that it sells to businesses.
For example, friends might see that a user rated an album 4 stars on the band’s Google Play page, or the +1 they gave a favorite local bakery could be included in an ad that the bakery runs through Google.
The move comes as part of its updated terms of service and will go live on November 11th, and will only apply to users aged 18 or over.
Privacy advocates as well as users of Google services are worried about this change, more so because it’s the default option unless a user opts out.
These endorsements will only be visible to the people you originally shared that activity with. Most content will therefore be restricted to a specific circle from Google+, although ratings and reviews posted on Google Play or Google+ Local will be visible to the wider public.
“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,” said Google in a blog post.
Users can control the use of their profile name and photo via the shared endorsements setting. If they turn the setting to “off,” thier profile name and photo will not show up on any ads, according to Google.
Google offered a guide on how to opt-out of the scheme (republished below):
1. Sign into your Google account. If you came to this page while still creating your account, finish that process first, then come back here.
2. Go to the Shared Endorsements setting page. If you are not already a Google+ user, you will be asked to upgrade your account.
3. To allow people to see your name and photo in shared endorsements appearing in ads, check the box next to “Based upon my activity, Google may show my name and profile photo in shared endorsements that appear in ads.” Then, click the “Save” button to save your new setting.
4. If you’d like to disable this setting, just uncheck the box and click “Save.” Remember, unchecking the box means that Google won’t be able to share your recommendations with your friends in some cases where they might otherwise see and benefit from them.
The move is similar to Facebook’s ‘Sponsored Stories’ newsfeed ads, which allows companies to pay to display users who like their pages on other peoples newsfeeds. Unlike Google, Facebook does not allow its users to opt out of such ads although users can limit how their actions on the social network are used in some other types of advertising.