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Google ToS Change Means Your Photo Could Go In Ads 136

An anonymous reader writes "Google [on Friday] announced an upcoming change to its terms of service that will let the company add users' names and photos to certain parts of its advertising as of November 11. Make no mistake: this is a direct attack against Facebook. One of the few advantages of Google+ is that it features no ads. To be perfectly clear, Google isn't changing that. Google+ will still have a clean interface, at least for the foreseeable future. Instead, Google is tying Google+ into yet another one of its properties, and arguably its most important one: Google Ads."
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Google ToS Change Means Your Photo Could Go In Ads

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  • Attack? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Optimal Cynic ( 2886377 ) on Saturday October 12, 2013 @08:30AM (#45107873)
    How is this an attack against Facebook? Are they competing for the title of "most hated social network"?
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      How is this an attack against Facebook? Are they competing for the title of "most hated social network"?

      Who the hell uses Google+? They keep annoying me to use it and I can't find a single use for it.

      • Re:Attack? (Score:4, Interesting)

        by rasmusbr ( 2186518 ) on Saturday October 12, 2013 @10:21AM (#45108309)

        Most people who actively use it seem to be using it as a replacement for Skype. That's a pretty big market in terms of users, so I'd guess there are probably tens of millions of people actively using G+.

      • I will never use google+
      • by tlhIngan ( 30335 )

        Who the hell uses Google+? They keep annoying me to use it and I can't find a single use for it.

        Every Google account is a G+ account these days. So quite a number of people have a G+ account - most likely either through GMail, Picasa, or YouTube since all the accounts got merged together.

        Of course, it looks like it's only on stuff you've +1'd so far, but who knows, they may use the pages you visit (through the +1 tags on every page these days) as virtual +1s...

    • How is this an attack against Facebook? Are they competing for the title of "most hated social network"?

      No, they're competing with other social network providers over advertisement dollars.

      It's now becoming so hard to avoid joining Google+ that they pretty much don't have to compete for users. If you're using the Internet you're probably going to join Google+ within the next few months, possibly by accident.

    • It's a direct attack on the people who search, get their mail, and watch videos through Google, and a direct love letter to Facebook and their vile business model.

    • Because you are not the customer, you are the product. This is something their true customers, the advertisers, will want.
    • Attack on privacy is a far more correct and honest asessment.

  • Opt in? (Score:3, Informative)

    by Peter H.S. ( 38077 ) on Saturday October 12, 2013 @08:33AM (#45107885) Homepage

    As I read the ToS, this is an opt in. So if you for some reason want to show your google+ friends, followers, or the world that you "+1" something, your can turn this feature on.

    • Teacups. Storms.
    • Re:Opt in? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by rubycodez ( 864176 ) on Saturday October 12, 2013 @08:39AM (#45107915)

      no, you have it backwards. you are opted in by default, you have to opt out.

      The default setting for "Shared Endorsements" is to use your google+ information in ads.

      do no evil, huh?

      • Re:Opt in? (Score:4, Informative)

        by Nerdfest ( 867930 ) on Saturday October 12, 2013 @08:50AM (#45107949)

        They've effectively been doing it already with the play store. You can see if any of the people in your circles have added a +1 to any of the apps. It's actually pretty handy.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        no, you have it backwards. you are opted in by default, you have to opt out.

        The default setting for "Shared Endorsements" is to use your google+ information in ads.

        do no evil, huh?

        No, you are wrong. The checkbox is off, you have to opt-in. That doesn't mean they won't change that at a later date, though.

        • Re:Opt in? (Score:5, Informative)

          by rubycodez ( 864176 ) on Saturday October 12, 2013 @09:06AM (#45107997)

          wrong. if your check box is off that merely means you disabled it prior to this announcement, probably when you joined, but look it up, FACT the default has always been for that setting to be ON when you joined gooogle+. it is ON by default..


          google: do evil

          • Re:Opt in? (Score:4, Insightful)

            by Nerdfest ( 867930 ) on Saturday October 12, 2013 @09:15AM (#45108041)

            Yeah, I'm pretty sure the last time I went through it that it was on by default. As I mentioned above, they only used it for thing on the Play store though. If people are "+1"ing businesses and products though, what is their intention ... who are they indicating "approval" too? I suppose it might just be a way of bookmarking something for themselves, but I always hought it was more meant for the subject of the approval and others to see anyway.

            • It seems Google Apps accounts are opted out by default, but Gmail and other regular Google accounts may be opted in by default.

              Still, they have made it very clear how to turn it off, and you would still need to comment, +1, or follow something for "Sharing" to kick in. I can kinda see how it's a nuisance, but they are being very up-front about it and making sure all user are notified via several notification methods.

              I'm more bothered by the half-assed attempt to tie my Google account and real name to thing

              • Yup, think it's the Google Apps thing.

                "Based on your domain's current settings, your name and profile picture will not appear in shared endorsements paired with ads. If your domain administrator changes this in the future, your choice here will be honoured."

                Which means that for Google Apps users, you are actually not permitted to opt in, because it explicitly says it will ignore you and keep you opted out anyway!

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Peter H.S. ( 38077 )

            google: do evil

            Oh, so now the bar for doing evil is set at "being allowed to voluntarily add a photo to your google product reviews."

            If that is your definition of evil then I wonder; do you have any words left for describing what was going on in the Auschwitz-Birkenau, Majdanek and Treblinka death camps.

            • I don't mind "opt-in" in the form of stepping through the settings on sign-up where you are shown the option checked and need to un-check it, but I'm not sure if that's what's done here. I usually manually step through the settings for stuff, but I don't remember being walked through it on first use. Opt-in without that important step is at least somewhat slimy.

      • Re:Opt in? (Score:4, Informative)

        by Peter H.S. ( 38077 ) on Saturday October 12, 2013 @09:00AM (#45107983) Homepage

        Well, I just looked at my google+ account: "Shared Endorsement" is "off" on my account, even though I accepted the new ToS. The ToS I received stated it was something I could enable if I wished.
        Doesn't seem evil to me.

      • I'm opted out by default. The setting is unchecked without me having to change anything. Presumably it's the same for Peter H.S. too.

      • wrong. I just went to the page and the checkbox was not checked by default. It's opt in.

      • Time to watermark all your photos with Copyright 2013 on them.

        • by Anonymous Coward

          Time to watermark all your photos with Copyright 2013 on them.

          No, time to watermark all your photos with Copyright Disney 2013. Google wont care about individual photographers copyrights any more than Hot Topic does, but even Google hesitates over a copyright fight with the Mouse. (enough so that you might even find your photos yanked if you do that)

          • I realise (think) your comment is partly in jest, but in theory, such an action could be legally interpreted as assigning copyright of your photos to Disney which could mean they would be able to use your photos in much the same way as Google wants to.

      • Actually, I went to the setting to opt out, and I found that I was already opted out "based on my current activity." So they've seen that I don't like that sort of thing (because I've opted out in the past) and respected that preference.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      As I read the ToS, this is an opt in. So if you for some reason want to show your google+ friends, followers, or the world that you "+1" something, you can turn this feature on.

      Let me highlight that for you.
      (and yes, I just checked my google settings, and it seems to be off by default)

    • by Anonymous Coward

      It seems to be opt-out for me, I went straight to the settings and it was turned on by default.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Quoting the ToS:

      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.

      Emphasis mine. You have to turn if off, so it is opt-out. Evil.

      • Don't complete your profile nor give em your real name. I haven't nor will do it. They keep bugging me to finish the damn thing but it's finished as far as I'm willing to go.

      • When I clicked the link explaining the detailed changes in ToS, I noticed 2 things that you forgot to mention. First, your quoted section actually links directly to the page where you can turn this setting off. Secondly, it's not the ToS themselves, but an explanation of the changes, which I've gotten a popup for on multiple pages through Google's services.
    • Re:Opt in? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by JanneM ( 7445 ) on Saturday October 12, 2013 @09:39AM (#45108149) Homepage

      Actually some people where opted out by default. I and others were opted in. There's no discernible pattern I can figure out for who was opt-in and who was opt-out. It does not depend on what you already agreed to previously, and it does not seem to depend on the jurisdiction where you live.

    • Re:Opt in? (Score:5, Informative)

      by BradMajors ( 995624 ) on Saturday October 12, 2013 @10:59AM (#45108467)

      You can only partially opt-out. Google is intending to use your name and picture without your consent:

        "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,"

      • You might want to read the detailed explanation of that:

        "Changing this setting does not impact how your name and photo might look in a shared endorsement that is not in an ad – for example, when you share a music recommendation that is displayed in the Play Store. You can limit the visibility of activity outside of ads by deleting the activity or changing its visibility settings."

        I tend to think that if I intentionally share an endorsement, then I might just have given explicit consent to ... um, shar

  • because we'll be evil for you!
  • It isn't that bad (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Chemisor ( 97276 ) on Saturday October 12, 2013 @08:38AM (#45107905)

    This only happens when you participate in a similar activity, such as using +1, writing a review, or following a product. These actions already act as endorsements within your circles; the new ads only make them more explicit. In my view, this is merely yet another reason to avoid putting anything on your Google+ profile, if you needed one. All this spying and marketing is slowly but surely making social network users shut up - a very good thing indeed.

    • What is "following a product" and what incentive does a person have to do such a thing?
      • I think businesses sometimes have contests, etc for following them. It's also good to get product updates from companies that have products that interest you. Tips, sales, etc.

      • by peragrin ( 659227 ) on Saturday October 12, 2013 @09:30AM (#45108107)

        NY comic con thought it should tweet from visitors accounts. this means if you ever look up a product on amazon all your friends know you were surfing for (insert fetish here).

        Companies are trying to force you to support their products so they can cheap out of advertising as real advertising is about 5% successful(on a good day).

        Word of mouth is the best advertising So by crosslinking into your social networks companies can advertise with words that appear to be coming out of your mouth.

        I have avoided social networks for just this reason. people think I am paranoid but damn sometimes it sucks to be right.

        • You might be right but you will also be left on the digital roadside. In 10 yrs you won't be able to do anything without social media.

      • by ArtDent ( 83554 )

        I believe it means adding a page for a product to one of your circles. If your privacy settings are such that other people would see what's in your circles, then the same people would be able to see your identity in such an ad.

    • by jrumney ( 197329 )

      This only happens when you participate in a similar activity, such as using +1, writing a review, or following a product.

      When I read the changes to the terms and conditions, I thought that it seemed like it was probably limited to +1s, reviews etc that I had explicitly posted, so was quite reasonable. On the other hand, it does not explicitly say it is limited to those, so I decided in the end that it was best to opt out.

  • by OpenYourEyes ( 563714 ) on Saturday October 12, 2013 @08:45AM (#45107935)

    It seems like there are three big differences between how Google is handling this and how Facebook handled this:

    1. Google is blasting the notice pretty visibly all over the place. Open a tab and you can't help but see info about it. It is in your notifications. They are making it loud and clear that this is going to happen, and being pretty transparent about what it means.
    2. Google is making it easy to opt out. If you opted out of some things, or if you're in an apps domain, you're already opted out. If not, there are prominent links telling you how to opt out of this.
    3. This is only happening for public activities. You can argue if a +1 or a review should be public or if it violates Google's own concept of circles, but they're making it clear this won't apply to things you share privately.

    I may have issues with how they're forcing some activities to be public only, but I can't fault them for trying to make it very clear what is public, what is private, and how they intend to respect the difference between the two.

    • by moteyalpha ( 1228680 ) on Saturday October 12, 2013 @09:41AM (#45108161) Homepage Journal
      Vast amounts of personal information are already available on the internet. The focus is to monetize what is publicly available. The issue seems to be -who- gains from what is laying around in the open or what can be inferred. The present model seems to revolve about connecting products to sales and taking a cut. That does not seem to be a sustainable gain. It requires that the consumer be actively involved in the process and people can simply stop using the internet without dying. The internet has exposed almost every person to scrutiny. Information does not act by itself. It is the motives and real world actions of those who observe that information that matter.
      I'm going to hang up this phone, and then I'm going to show these people what you don't want them to see.
  • If by few advantages you mean in addition to having a superior mobile app, better website, yes it is a small thing.

    If someone is going to get your info, it may as well be the same company who knows how often you search for midget porn as well (you, not me).

    • I figure it's trading some privacy for a service, so you may as well make the deal that gives you personally the best value for your information. I got into the free Google Apps thing before they stopped offering it, so it's an easy decision for me, and probably for people that really like GMail and Google Calendar as well. I know people with kids that couldn't live without Calendar for scheduling activities.

      • Exactly. After years of mooching free DNS and mail servers from friends, I switched to the google apps account I had created years before and never used. It works great and I don't have to worry about my ISP ever turning off my service for running "unauthorized servers", plus google runs the spam filters for me. There is no such thing as a free lunch, so get the best value for it.

        Google appears to be the most up-front about their privacy options and IMO has the best interface for controlling it.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    1. You can't opt-out of your Google+ information being used for ads.
    2. Your search history, most recently visited web pages and all your bookmarks are automatically shared via Google+. It will be an opt-in program.
    3. Now you can't opt-out. This feature will be enabled for all users.
    4. All your emails sent to your Gmail address will be automatically copied over to your Google+ page for the public to see. It will be an opt-in program.
    5. Now you can't opt-out. This feature will be enabled for all user

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Does it impact photos on Picasa?

  • Curious (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    I just noted a curious fact.

    I had a Firefox extension installed that kept me informed about the personal information I was sharing with the sites visited. This extension had a nice calculator, too, letting me check how much my personal information was worth for Google and Facebook advertisers, so I could restrict the settings and diminish my "value" as an ad target.

    Before installing the plug-in I was worth more than 750$/year for Google and 134$/year for Facebook. After "closing" the holes, my value as ad t

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Dude has messed up FF extension and gets modded up? WTF.

      • I mean, really. There's absolutely no chance of him just not noticing it was disabled, or a bug in FF that disabled it without popping the notification, or someone else using the computer who ignored the notification, or a hundred other scenarios more likely than the grand conspiracy...
  • Can i suggest that as a counter you change your profile picture? Set it as a QR code of something abusive towards either Facebook or Google+, or a link to an article criticising this policy.
    • I was just about to suggest that everyone change their profile pics to gore or offensive porn. Yeah, use that in your ads! Hell, I don't even want to be on Google+, but there doesn't seem to be any way of opting out except deleting any google-related accounts you might have, since they're going to force you to join sooner or later.
      • I suspect porn icon would violate some kind of googol TOS.
        But I like the idea.

        Maybe we ought to have a slashdot contest for icons and pix that protesters could use as their profile pic, items that say "Google Is Evil" or "Don't Believe this Crap" or photoshopped images of Sergey Brin with a Hitler mustache.
  • I had to login to write this. Many people online have for various reasons difficulties understanding the consequences of things like these. By having risky options "Default is On" and "You can opt out" they will be tricked into allowing Google to use their name and picture in ads. A company claiming to act responsible and "Do no Evil" should not need to do questionable acts like these.

    I know some telemarketers exploit this and sell their products to people with mental problems, dementia and what not. We all
    • I've expected Google to do this since I signed up for gmail. They're an advertising corporation and only make money from adverts. Does this bother me? Not really as I've taken steps from the beginning to devalue my worth to them for advertising purposes - the first step was to never complete the fucking profile - it has my handle and an avatar with a nonsense location of "Out of my Mind".

  • by websitebroke ( 996163 ) on Saturday October 12, 2013 @10:21AM (#45108307)
    Oh, right, I forget that people actually use the web without an ad blocker.
  • by bmo ( 77928 ) on Saturday October 12, 2013 @10:51AM (#45108427)

    The last time I logged into Google, there was a banner on the top of the browser window. "Our Privacy Policies Have Changed" and such, in bright Google blue.

    I actually read the privacy policy change.

    Then I unticked the box. They won't be using my "face" in ads. Bam.

    This is really, really hard to do.

    I wish some other (nearly all) companies were this forthcoming with their privacy policy changes. Especially when they put the onus on the user to actively diff the changes for their own selves in order to actually find them. They don't even take the minimum effort to post a notice.


  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 12, 2013 @11:15AM (#45108533)

    My new profile pic will be
    a picture of myself holding a sign, "Don't buy this stuff please" :)

  • I think everyone should change their image to goatse or tub girl and +1 the hell out of every thing. I think google would respond posthaste when their advertisers shit themselves (pun intended) when that shows up in their ads

  • Just to add some info here, when I checked that page, that option was already unchecked for me by default. I'm pretty sure I didn't uncheck it. So Google clearly knows enough about me to know that I don't want that option before they even ask.
  • by greggman ( 102198 ) on Saturday October 12, 2013 @01:53PM (#45109459) Homepage

    I would like all my reviews to show up publically when people search for stuff. That's why I wrote the reviews. I've put reviews on Amazon, TripAdvisor, Yelp,, etc... When a product or service has been outstanding I want others to know it worked for me. When a product or service sucks I want to help steer people away from them.

    Google's implementation seems great. I can choose to review something, I can choose to make it public or private or share it with specific people like "family" so that 6 months later when my mom is looking for a digital camera and types "digital camera" into google she seems my reviews. That sounds awesome to me.

    Of course if Google only shows positive reviews that would be bad but AFAICT that's not what they're doing. I've certainly googled for stuff and seen 1 and 2 star ratings.

The party adjourned to a hot tub, yes. Fully clothed, I might add. -- IBM employee, testifying in California State Supreme Court