When a celebrity steps before the cameras and holds up a bottle of Coke, their fat endorsement check is usually in the mail.
But when Google splashes your name, face and words across an ad for a product or service—as part of its upcoming plan to sell user endorsements to advertisers—it’ll be the one collecting the cash, unless you know enough to opt out.
“Recommendations from people you know can really help,” reads Google’s updated Terms of Service. “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.”
Google says it’ll continue to respect the wishes of those users who previously asked the company to exclude their 1+s from any advertising. For those who want to prevent their Google profile name and photo from appearing as part of these endorsements, head over to the Shared Endorsements setting and opt out:
If you choose not to opt out, Shared Endorsements are scheduled to go live Nov. 11. Google’s program is similar to the Sponsored Stories initiative launched by Facebook two years ago, which resulted in a $20 million class-action lawsuit for the social network. In Facebook’s system, advertisers could leverage the names and images of any users who’d “Liked” a particular brand. Despite the lawsuit, Facebook continues with Sponsored Stories to this day, albeit with more warnings and explanatory texts; as Kashmir Hill pointed out over at Forbes, it’s much easier to opt out of Google’s Shared Endorsements.
Presumably, Google gets paid good money from companies for advertisements that leverage and display user data. But if the search-engine giant is profiting from the practice, why aren’t the ordinary people featured in the actual ads getting their cut? A superstar actor can score millions for endorsing some sugary product. Maybe Google should toss its “ad stars” a few dollars, as well.