Rarely does a Terms of Service update mean good things for regular folks these days, and such is the case with Google's latest ToS refresh, which goes into effect Nov. 11.
It's then that you might start seeing your name, Google profile photo and activity like +1s and comments appear in ads, according to Google. According to the New York Times, which first reported on the ToS update, money will change hands between Google and advertisers for the use of user endorsements.
The deceptively-kumbaya term "shared endorsements" describes recommendations Google users make that will appear in ads. They include actions things like rating a song on Google Play, +1-ing a bakery or writing a review.
Users 18+ may make ad appearances, while the under-18 set will only see shared endorsements from others, not be featured in them.
Google said shared endorsements are a way to give and get more relevant recommendations - aren't you more apt to trust a comment about that bakery from your friend than a stranger?
Of course this is also exactly why advertisers will be drawn to including users' names, pictures and activities in their advertisements. As the Times put it, it's like word-of-mouth marketing on a broader, web-based scale.
It's not entirely clear what ads featuring shared endorsements will look like yet or how brands will choose whether they want to include shared endorsements, but more info will come to light when the new policy goes into effect next month.
How to turn it off
Should they idea of appearing in an ad with no compensation bother you, you have a few avenues to opt out.
If you've already made it so your +1's don't appear in ads, then you're in the clear. Google said it will honor your setting.
If you haven't done this yet and want to, sign into your Google account. Then head to the Shared Endorsements setting page (you won't see this if you don't have a Google+ account - Google will ask you to "upgrade your account" so you make one).
Scroll to the bottom of the Shared Endorsements setting page and uncheck the box next to the phrase," Based upon my activity, Google may show my name and profile photo in shared endorsements that appear in ads." Click Save.
It is important to note that unchecking the shared endorsements box only applies to actions Google displays with ads. Your name and photo will still appear in things like shared music recommendations from the Play Store.
To limit how much activity shows up outside of ads, you can delete the activity (which makes your activity pointless then doesn't it, Google?) or changing its visibility settings.
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