Shared Endorsements

Google on Friday announced an important privacy policy change that will enter into effect on November 11, and whose scope is to allow the Search giant to use more of your data in targeted ads – meet the “Shared Endorsements.”

Simply put, Google will take your profile name and photo, your +1s, your reviews and comments, plaster them next to ads, and serve the combo to your friends and family, Google+ contacts and/or the general public, depending on the settings of your Google+ shares. That’s what Shared Endorsements are, and you can check out a few samples in the screenshots here.

At the end of the day, Google is an advertising business, and everything it does is related to improving its ads and therefore generating more money from them – sure, you may say that Google is involved in a lot of projects, including some great ones that are meant to help the community, but ultimately the company does it all for the ads revenue.

We’ll also point out that it’s the ads cash that pays for all those Google services you may be using free of charge. This doesn’t mean it’s okay for Google to use more personal data in ads, but then again, that’s why it created Google+ in the first place. Not to mention that you can always opt out of using Google services altogether.

Will this new policy hurt you?

No matter what your stance is on this privacy policy update, and on Google’s privacy settings in general – the company has been investigated more than once for privacy-related concerns – you’ll have to know that things aren’t as bad as they may initially sound.

Shared Endorsements

Example of Shared Endorsements

You just have to pay attention to Google’s privacy policy changes heads up and act accordingly – you’ll see them appear in various Google services, as a blue bar hovering on top of the service you’re using, but you also may receive some emails detailing the new policy.

From the get-go, you’ll have to know that Google will not show your profile and any of the information you’re sharing if you chose not to share such data in ads. Also, if you’re under 18 years of age, the setting will be turned off by default. (Here’s where you need to go in Google+ to disable the feature – note that it will be disabled if you already opted out of showing up in ads.)

However, this is only related to ads, and the following paragraph may be of concern, as Google seems to indicate that your endorsements may appear in other places where ads are not present, such as Google Play and “other [unnamed] places:”

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. This setting only applies to use in ads, and doesn’t change whether your Profile name or photo may be used in other places such as Google Play.

Of course, if you use Google services, but don’t actually use your Google+ page then you’ll have nothing to worry about when dealing with this new policy change.

In case you do choose to let Google show your name, profile image, ratings and reviews in ads, you’ll have to know that Google will respect your sharing choices, and only include Shared Endorsements that apply for certain circles.

Shared Endorsements

Example of Shared Endorsements

If you like a certain product, and you share your +1s, reviews and or comments about that product only with a group of contacts, it’s only that number of contacts that will see your profile picture pop up in ads related to that product alongside data from Google+. That’s assuming the products manufacturer buys ads from Google (see example above).

The privacy changes apply to both individual profiles and to Google+ pages, which means that if you manage Google+ pages, all their social activity will be treated similarly to personal profiles when it comes to Shared Endorsements.

Google is not the first company to revert to such advertising tricks, although the company is taking a different approach than Facebook – the world’s largest social network has its own share of privacy-related programs, as it also uses Like activity inside Facebook for ads that are shown inside the platform.

But Google is apparently taking the appropriate steps to inform users about the changes and ways to opt out of this new ad-related feature.

What are your thoughts on the new Shared Endorsements feature? Are you going to star in Google’s ads, or not?

  • Ray

    I’m not bothered. I’ve read through a few of their T&C’s and it still seems like Google gives you a lot of control with respect to what does and doesn’t appear.

    I think it’s great that Google gives control to the user instead of just ‘forcing’ it on you – no opt out, etc.

    It is a lot more then I can say for ‘other’ social networks – one in particular.

    • paxmos

      You are so gullible!!

      • Ray

        Thanks. :)

        • paxmos

          Sure thing.

    • abazigal

      I see it as the other way round. Google is putting the onus of opting out squarely on the shoulders of the user, rather than requiring him to actually make a conscious effort to opt in to such a feature.

      How many people actually bother to read through their T&Cs, much less be fully aware of the ramifications of such a move enough to make an informed decision?

      A few might, but I daresay the vast majority won’t. Such a move obviously makes more sense from Google’s POV (nobody would opt in if it was optional and not enabled by default unless there was some financial incentive), and sufficiently covers Google’s backside (you have the option to opt out!).

      • Ray

        In this day and age, if you’re going to sign up to any kind of social media or online service, regardless of who is behind it, you should be at least having a quick glance over the T&Cs if nothing else. If you’re not prepared to familiarise yourself with what exactly you’re signing up to then unfortunately, you deserve everything you get. T&Cs aren’t exactly the most exciting thing to read I’ll admit, but they are there for a good reason. They’re a necessary evil.

        I don’t like being opted in to services by default however, Google have been very open about this. I got an email from them and Google+ also showed me a notification pointing to more info and also gave me the option to turn it off – it was right there in front of my face – a check box to opt out. I really didn’t have to do a lot at all.

        I’m don’t always agree with what Google does or doesn’t do, but in this instance I think they’ve done a good job making sure you’re well informed of the upcoming changes.

        At the end of the day, you have every right to delete your account and never touch a another Google service again. They also make it reasonably easy for you to do this as well.

        • abazigal

          And so what if you happen to come across a clause in the T&C that you don’t like, or don’t really understand. How many people are prepared to forgo services like facebook, gmail or swear off google search altogether because of this? Or do they just bite the bullet and sign up anyways because, what option is there, really?

          It’s basically a “take it or leave it” scenario, as individual users don’t have the leeway to negotiate the terms of the contract.

          In the end, the pros outweigh the cons. That’s why people continue to use them even as they complain about certain things they do.

          • Ray

            It is your decision after all – only you can decide whether or not to sign up or not. Google, Facebook – none of them are forcing you to type in your details and hit the ‘sign me up’ button. It’s a right and a choice you need to make. Granted, they do suck you in and they do a damn good job of it however, none of them are holding a gun to your head.

            I’ve got two mates who refuse to sign up to Facebook because of some of their T&Cs. We have tried many times to get them to sign up but they flat out refuse. We even created an account for one of them in the hope he would give in – it didn’t go down quite so well. He was not impressed at all. One them uses Gmail but wont touch Google+ – or virtually any other Google service for that matter.

            The pros do outweigh the cons for sure. For me personally, I like the products and services Google deliver and best of all, they’re virtually free. In exchange for that, they wont my data. That said, they only get what I give them. Essentially I don’t post anything online, whether it be private message or publicly unless I’m happy for the whole world to see that data.

        • paxmos

          You are suspiciously defending google here. abazigal is right, how about the “opt in” option rather???

          • Ray

            I don’t know if I’m really defending them. I’m just well aware that in order for Google to keep offering all their products and services to us for free (in terms of monetary value), they need some sort of revenue stream – that revenue mostly comes from ads which are generated from the data we provide them.

            If they offered you the opt-in option, what percentage of people do you think would actually opt-in? My guess is next to no one. And that pretty much means the end of Google.

            They go about it the other way – they opt you in automatically and then give you the option to opt-out. It’s a much smarter way of doing things from a business prospective I think.

            Yes, they opt you in automatically, but myself and plenty of others received notifications via Gmail as well as Google+ (if you use it) informing us of the changes. They even directly linked you to the page to opt-out along with all the information about the changes. What other company does that for you? Facebook sure as hell don’t. Not to mention the amount of tech websites, blogs or otherwise who have plastered it across the globe informing you of the changes. Android Authority provided a direct link to the opt-out option above.

            I still believe that Google have done the right thing in this instance.

      • paxmos

        I agree with you regarding the “opt in” option.

    • Brian Shieh

      I bet Microsoft with the scroogled campaign has a new point to make… :P

  • Jose Marie Maquinay

    For me, its a good thing Google did this.

    Its a nice way to find out what my friends like or use (gadgets and/or services). Its makes it easier to ask someone you know than from a “reputable” review site.

    • paxmos

      “reputable” and google don’t go very well together…

      • Jose Marie Maquinay

        Of all of the companies that has data on me, I trust Google the most.

        In fact, I trust them so much, that already considering changing religion /s

  • seyss

    if you have a google+ profile you SHOULD indeed be exposed as an idiot

    • Ray

      Because I have a Google+ profile I’m an idiot, along with the millions of others who also have one?

      I take it you’re still a little immature child and incapable of offering anything constructive other then that rubbish you just posted. Thanks for your input, but come back when you’ve grown up a little bit, OK.