Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) is expanding its use of profile names and photos in advertisements, stepping up competition with Facebook (Nasdaq: FB) in social marketing.
But in order to do so, the Internet giant is changing its terms of service.
Google now wants your permission to use your name, photo and product reviews in ads that it sells to businesses.
The changes take effect Nov. 11.
Your reviews of restaurants, shops and products, as well as songs and other content bought on the Google Play store could show up in ads that are displayed to your friends, connections and the broader public when they search on Google. The company calls that feature “shared endorsements.”
Google laid out an example of how this could happen: “Katya Klinova,” her face and five-star review appear underneath an ad for Summertime Spas.
You can opt out of sharing your reviews.
Google said Friday that the name and photo you use in its social network, Google Plus, is the one that would appear in the ad. Google has said the social network has 390 million active users per month.
“We want to give you — and your friends and connections — the most useful information. Recommendations from people you know can really help,” the company said in an explanation of the changes.
Googlealready had a similar setting for its “+1” button, which it introduced in 2011. It had experimented temporarily with putting “+1” endorsements with users’ identities in ads, but it hasn’t had them up recently. The company said Friday that the choice a user made about allowing for “+1” endorsements would be the default setting for shared endorsements.
Also, if a user chooses to limit an endorsement to certain circles of friends or contacts, that restriction will be respected in any ads that use the endorsement.
Users under the age of 18 are excluded from the service. The profile information, drawn from the Google+ social network, will only be shown to people who already see the content, and users can adjust privacy settings to block the new feature, the company said.
Privacy is a growing concern as companies including Google, Facebook and LinkedIn Corp. dig deeper into user data. Last month, privacy groups asked the Federal Trade Commission to prevent Facebook from changing its data-use policies, citing concerns on how the information was being used for ads.
“The FTC needs to closely examine this new change in Google policy,” Jeffrey Chester, executive director of the Center for Digital Democracy, a Washington-based privacy group, said in an e-mail. This move “reflects the growing and unchecked expansion of online data collection by the industry,” Chester said.