Google to Include Users’ Names and Photos in Web Ads

Users of Google’s services could soon see their profile name, profile photo or comments appear in online advertising.

Google on Friday announced that it would soon be able to show users’ names, photos, ratings and comments in ads across the Web, endorsing marketers’ products. Photo: brionv/ Flickr

On Friday Google has updated its terms of service so that it can feature users’ names and photos in certain parts of its advertising.

In a statement issued Friday detailing the changes, Google stresses users will have full control over whether they share information through these endorsements.

“On Google, you’re in control of what you share,” reads a statement from the company. “This update to our Terms of Service doesn’t change in any way who you’ve shared things with in the past or your ability to control who you want to share things with in the future.”

After the policy takes effect Nov. 11, users who review a video on YouTube or a restaurant on Zagat.com could see their name, photo and comments show up in ads on any of the 2 million Web sites that are part of the company’s display advertising network.

Under the new terms of service, whenever you comment on, follow or +1 a page while logged in with your Google account, that content can then be used alongside relevant ads.

Here’s exactly how Google describes the process, as well as how and what data will be used in its updated terms:

“We want to give you – and your friends and connections – the most useful information. Recommendations from people you know can really help.

“So your friends, family and others may see your Profile name and photo, and content like the reviews you share or the ads you +1’d. This only happens when you take an action (things like +1’ing, commenting or following) – and the only people who see it are the people you’ve chosen to share that content with.”

Other changed Google has brought is a reminder to use mobile devices more safely, and third were changes on the details of the importance of keeping passwords protected.

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, says the Telegraph.

The controversial practice, announced by Google, is part of an emerging trend on the Internet. Actually Facebook already runs similar endorsement ads. Although on Thursday it, too, took a step to show personal information more broadly by changing its search settings to make it harder for users to hide from other people trying to find them on the social network, reports The NY Times.

Since Google is under the supervision of the FTC for previous privacy violations, they want to show they have considered the privacy implications of the new ads, so that user’s feel comfortable, the Times reported.

“The trick to any advertising like this is to avoid coming across as creepy to your user base and have them say, ‘I didn’t want anyone else to know that,’ ” said Zachary Reiss-Davis, a Forrester analyst, speaking generally about social ads, to the Times.

Google will be notifying users of the change with banners of its homepage, search results and Google Plus notifications.

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