We all know how Facebook’s Sponsored Stories effort went – but Google’s going for it anyway. With Google releasing an update to its terms of service a full month ahead of its scheduled implementation – thanks for the heads up, guys – you need to work fast if you don’t want your faces showing up in these ads.
Here’s what Shared Endorsements is, in a nutshell: Basically Google wants to use your profile name, photo, and any action you’ve done while logged into your Google account (including commenting, following, +1ing) for recommendation purposes (also known as online advertising). The search engine can associate your identity with reviews for restaurants, products, stores, and other items you click on or buy on the Google Play store. Granted that “the only people who see [recommendations] are the people you’ve chosen to share that content with,” the change still inadvertently uses you as a hired salesman of things you don’t necessarily want to be officially linked to.
Shared Endorsements are pretty much the same creature as Facebook’s Sponsored Stories, but unlike the latter, Google had the good sense to provide users a real way to opt out.
Here’s a quick step-by-step to ensuring you don’t become just another face on a Google ad:
1. Go to Google.com and sign in using your account (or sign up, if for some weird reason you don’t have an account yet).
2. Go to Shared Endorsements, which is only accessible through a Google+ account. You will be required to upgrade your account if you haven’t yet.
3. Make sure you read through the entire page. Find the part where it says “Based on my activity, Google may show my name and profile photo in shared endorsements that appear in ads.” Uncheck the box and hit Save. Google will make one last attempt to discourage you from disabling the setting, but really, if your friends were interested in your recommendations, they can just ask you right?
4. Go ahead and click Continue.
You are now opted out of Google’s Shared Endorsements program. Congrats! Live on in relative to no anonymity, Internet user!
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