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Google is about to start using your face in ads, but you can still opt out

Google+ users have a choice about appearing in Google’s new endorsements.


Aja Romano


As part of Google’s ongoing and controversial attempts to integrate all its services with the Google+ social network, the company launched a new advertising model today that allows it to show Google+ users names, faces and information in ads unless they opt out. 

The change was announced last month and incorporated into Google+’s terms of service this week.

The problem? Most people don’t realize their activities are actually public. After all, it’s not like Google told them about it. Luckily, it’s easy to opt out of the service you may not have realized you’d signed up for. 

The new ads are called “Shared Endorsements,” and Google bills them as a way to “ensure that your recommendations reach the people you care about.” That means that your G+ profile icon can appear on Google ads shown to those in your G+ circles, creating the impression that you’ve “endorsed” that product. 

To stop this from happening, go to your Google+ Account Settings and select Edit. Halfway down the screen, you’ll see the option to uncheck the default status of “on” for the personalized ad recommendations.

When you uncheck the button, Google will display a pop-up that attempts to dissuade you from your decision.

Just click ‘Continue,’ and then click ‘Save.’

Though opting out of this particular setting is easy, it’s not the only problem Google’s had with its recent push for Google+ integration. The new policy follows hard on the heels of an attempt to force YouTube users to get Google+ accounts, which has prompted backlash from YouTube celebrities, anti-Google+ hate ballads, and viral rants from users demanding that the search company “Stop. Forcing. Google+.”

With the new ad policy, it seems many people are wary that the recommendations, currently only shown to friends, will turn into a way to share their content publicly. The idea might not be far-fetched: Google’s biggest competitor, Facebook, has been using a similar ad model for 2 years. Despite a $20 million setttlement last month in a class-action lawsuit over the issue of displaying Facebook users’ names next to ads, Facebook simply rewrote its policies and carried on.

“I love that when I unclicked the box, it said ‘Your friends will be less likely to benefit from your recommendations’ as if NOT having my browsing and searching history show up everywhere they look is a negative thing,” wrote Tumblr user moniquill, reblogging a how-to-opt-out post that’s garnered thousands of notes since this afternoon.

Despite the backlash, Google is moving forward with plans to further monetize Google+ and YouTube. Last week, it reached an agreement with ratings company Nielsen to place an ad measurement tracker on all YouTube ads.

It looks like changes are well underway for Google+ and YouTube—whether users like them or not.

Photo via scobleizer/Flickr

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