Google to Place User Photos, Info in Ads

Dennis Faas's picture

Facebook recently took heat from users upset with the company's claim that it could use members' photographs for advertising purposes without asking permission. Despite that outrage, Google is now implementing a similar policy.

According to reports, users of Google's own social networking service, Google+, could soon see their pictures placed in advertisements. Those same users will not be consulted before these ads are made or compensated once the ads are placed online.

Google Puts Positive Spin on New Terms of Service

In a recent statement Google said that, through a new terms of service being released November 11, 2013, it maintains the right to use Google+ members' user names and profile pictures for "reviews, advertising," and other commercial purposes.

In effect, the policy means that a user (over the age of 18) unknowingly consents to become brand ambassador for the goods and services they recommend via Google+.

Google believes it's a positive step because these "shared endorsements" purportedly help Google+ users "save time" when searching for new goods and services. After all, what's better than a recommendation by an actual friend, family member, or colleague?

"We want to give you -- and your friends and connections -- the most useful information," Google announced on its website. "Recommendations from people you know can really help."

Internet Privacy Advocates Slam New Policy

Of course, not everyone shares Google's opinion on the matter.

Internet privacy and social media lawyer Bradley Shear recently told ABC News that he believes Google's policy "demonstrates that Google does not care about their user's privacy," and that "This is an absolute abuse of the trust of [Google] customers."

"We're all essentially now a product," Shear added. "I really think that goes against the grain of what we are as a society." (Source:

Opt-Out Possible, But Discouraged by Google

There is good news, however: unlike Facebook, Google is giving Google+ members the ability to opt out of the program.

However, the firm isn't exactly encouraging people to make the change; in fact, when a user decides to opt out they're presented with an "Are you sure?" message followed by the warning "your friends will be less likely to benefit from your recommendations."

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission is currently investigating Facebook's new policy but because of the government shutdown it's not yet clear if the Google+ policy will also undergo review. (Source:

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