Google is basically making its own version of Facebook Sponsored Stories

heres how you can avoid being a star on one of googles shared endorsements google

Google has found its new advertising star: you. 

Changes to Google’s Terms of Service indicate the company plans to use the names and photos of its users in advertising. The advertisements are called “shared endorsements” and they will run underneath advertisements about Google services. Here’s how it works: if you make a comment, follow a page, or give something a +1, Google can use those actions to promote the thing you’ve endorsed, including your name and photo in an ad. They’re trying to sell it like it’s a tool to help users unearth recommendations, though really it’s just Google using free user content to make cheap ads.  

This sort of thing has been done before. If a plan to turn user endorsements into advertisements sounds familiar, you’re probably remembering Facebook’s disastrous Sponsored Stories. Sponsored Stories began in 2011, and they turned pages that Facebook users “liked” and status updates that included companies or products into advertisements. Facebook users, however, immediately took issue with Sponsored Stories, and the company shuttered the program after settling a $20 million class action lawsuit

In its Terms of Service update, Google makes sure to outline how the company’s “shared endorsements” plan gives users control over what people see; if your Google+ activity is designed only for a specific Circle or group of friends, only that group will be able to see the “shared endorsements.” Facebook’s Sponsored Stories were the same way — if you shared a status update referencing Starbucks, for instance, they would turn it into a Sponsored Story, but only showed it to people who could see the status update as per your privacy settings. 

There’s a crucial difference separating Google’s new effort from Facebook’s Sponsored Stories: while Facebook users were unable to opt out of Sponsored Stories altogether, Google users can. Google made this distinction clear: 

“When it comes to shared endorsements in ads, you can control the use of your Profile name and photo via the Shared Endorsements setting. If you turn the setting to “off,” your Profile name and photo will not show up on that ad for your favorite bakery or any other ads.” 

So unlike Sponsored Stories, the “shared endorsements” are something you can turn off. This may prove crucial to avoiding problems for Google, although expect Google+ users who haven’t read this update will likely get ornery when they see themselves turned into shills. 

Mobile

Google’s storage-management app gets face-lift, is now called ‘Files by Google’

Google has revamped its files management app with a new look and name. Now known as Files by Google, the app received the company's all-white material redesign -- offering the same functionality, but with a cleaner look.
Mobile

The 100 best Android apps turn your phone into a jack-of-all-trades

Choosing which apps to download is tricky, especially given how enormous and cluttered the Google Play Store has become. We rounded up 100 of the best Android apps and divided them neatly, with each suited for a different occasion.
Mobile

Google Maps tests feature that will help drivers avoid crashes, speed traps

Google Maps is testing a feature that lets drivers report crashes and speed traps so the app can plan efficient routes for others in the area, or warn of upcoming hazards. Waze, which Google owns, already offers such a feature.
Mobile

Pixel 3's wireless charging has been fixed, but extra notch remains

The Google Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL are arguably the best Android phones out there right now -- but they aren't perfect. Users have reported a number of issues and problems related to the Google Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL. Here's how to fix them.
Social Media

Snapchat’s PR firm is suing an influencer for failing to influence

Snapchat's PR firm is suing a social media influencer for his alleged failure to promote Spectacles on Instagram. Actor Luka Sabbat was paid $45,000 upfront, but the suit claims he fell well short of the terms of the deal.
Computing

Urban legends for the digital age: The best scary stories from the internet

In need of some simple scares this Halloween? We've combed the internet for the best creepypastas, urban legends, and scary stories. From found footage YouTube videos to a deceptively scary wiki, these stories are sure to spook.
Mobile

WhatsApp finally gives in to the lure of cash-generating ads

WhatsApp's co-founders always said their messaging app would never show ads, but once the pair quit the company, it seemed inevitable that its owner, Facebook, would find a way to incorporate them.
Mobile

Shazam hooks up with Instagram Stories for another way to share songs

The latest update for Apple-owned Shazam lets iPhone users share music tracks to Instagram Stories in a few quick taps. To enable the feature, just make sure you have the latest version of Shazam loaded on your handset.
Social Media

Dine and dash(board): Make a Yelp reservation from your car’s control panel

Already in the car, but can't decide where to eat? Yelp Reservations can now be added to some dashboard touchscreens. Yelp Reservations searches for restaurants within 25 miles of the vehicle's location.
Computing

Hackers sold 120 million private Facebook messages, report says

Up to 120 million private Facebook messages were being sold online by hackers this fall. The breach was first discovered in September and the messages were obtained through unnamed rogue browser extensions. 
Web

Switch up your Reddit routine with these interesting, inspiring, and zany subs

So you've just joined the wonderful world of Reddit and want to explore it. With so many subreddits, however, navigating the "front page of the internet" can be daunting. You're in luck -- we've gathered 23 of the best subreddits to help…
Social Media

Facebook opens pop-up stores at Macy’s, but they’re not selling the Portal

Facebook has opened pop-up stores at multiple Macy's, though they're not selling Facebook's new Portal device. Instead, they're showcasing small businesses and brands that are already popular on Facebook and Instagram.
Social Media

Facebook Messenger will soon let you delete sent messages

A feature coming to Facebook Messenger will let you delete a message for up to 10 minutes after you send it. The company promised the feature months ago and this week said it really is on its way ... "soon."
Social Media

Pinterest brings followed content front and center with full-width Pin format

Want to see Pinterest recommendations, or just Pins from followed users? Now Pinners can choose with a Pinterest Following feed update. The secondary feed eliminates recommendation and is (almost) chronological.