Google Plans to Use Our Pictures to 'Endorse' Ads, Here's How to Opt-Out

This is why I don't like paying for services through advertising: Google has announced a change in its terms of service that allow the company to use our names, personal information, and likenesses (photographs) in ads for third party companies, products, and services that we have +1'd, commented on anywhere using our Google+ login, rated on Google Play, or posted to YouTube.

In other words, Google—like Facebook—intends to show our mugs to the world on ads to other people as endorsements, complete with our photograph to sell it. Here's Google's example:

Shared Endorsements

Surprise! You're Endorsing This!

WTF is wrong with both of these companies? How does this make it out of the pot smoke-filled planning rooms where it was dreamed up? What is it about being an executive of one of these companies that leads them to lose all sight of right and wrong?

Google is euphemistically calling the scheme "shared endorsements," and it goes into effect on November 11th. Users can opt-out of this nonsense, meaning that if you don't proactively stop Google from using you, you will be used.

So let me show you how to opt out:

Google set up a page called "Shared Endorsements" to explain the "feature." At the bottom of that page is the opt-out control. It's checked by default

Shared Endorsements Opt-Out

"Shared Endorsement" Opt-Out

Listen, I understand advertising. The Mac Observer exists on advertising. Ads are a fact of life on the Internet today. I don't block ads—I think doing so is morally repugnant and equivalent to stealing—and I know that all of the marvelous services offered by Google are paid for by ads. The same goes for Facebook, though I see its services as less than "marvelous."

But this belief that our privacy, and in this case our very likeness and name, is theirs to use is worse than morally repugnant, it's morally bankrupt. It's one thing to serve up targeted ads by anonymously rifling through everything we do on Google or anywhere that uses Google+ logins or Google AdSense or AdWords, but profiting off our names and likeness?

That's beyond the pale. It's made even more egregious because we didn't know this was going to happen when we made those comments and reviews and posts and +1s up until today. That's the worst part of this.

If you know about this—and to its credit, Google announced the plan and intends to promote it so that its users are aware—don't "opt-out" and proceed to make that comment, rating, post, or +1 after November 11th, you really can't be mad. But rating that porn/dating/job search app on Google Play a year ago and having your friends and the rest of the world see that "shared endorsement" after November 11th? That's pure crap.

And such opportunities for embarrassment are just the icing on the cake of the fact that Google feels entitled to make money by pimping our faces in the first place.

It boggles my mind.

[Via The New York Times]