Typically, I don’t review something unless I really liked the item or location. That’s why Google’s new Terms of Service update doesn’t really bother me. But, I understand there might be some users who might not want their reviews, faces, or comments shared as a part of Google’s marketing strategy.

What is going on?

Google’s announcement comes as a shock for some people, even encouraging other bloggers to highlight Google’s evil tendencies. Of course, Google’s announcement comes as no surprise when you recognize that Google’s search algorithms rely heavily on users. Google uses its collective populace to tell it what’s important in the world. User reviews — “shared endorsement” in Google jargon — are an important way for Google Bot to check out the “hot or not” of the web.

Starting November 11, Google will use your image, comments, and reviews to in connection with the advertisements displayed in Google results. Google explains the process this way:

To ensure that your recommendations reach the people you care about, Google sometimes displays your reviews, recommendations and other relevant activity throughout its products and services. This sometimes includes shopping contexts, like the Google Play music store, and ads. Your profile name and photo may appear with the recommendation.

For example, if you search for “Italian restaurants,” you might see an ad for a nearby restaurant along with your friend’s favorable review. Or, in Google Play, you might see that another friend has +1’d a new song or album.

We call these shared endorsements.

Essentially, just like Amazon or similar sites, when you review place, item, or other product, your review will now be publicly available in the advertisement. Here’s a look at how the shared endorsements will appear:

Shared Endorsements

Shared endorsements really don’t appear any different than other websites, but I think most people are upset by the fact that their pictures will appear with the endorsements.

I should note that Google’s clear that shared endorsements are not related to your privacy settings, and for users under 18, “their actions won’t appear in Shared Endorsements in ads and certain other contexts.” Also, shared experiences is only for advertising-related activities, and not for other events.

Changing settings is easy

Not to worry though. Opting out of shared endorsements is easy if you visit this page and uncheck the box next to “Based upon my activity, Google may show my name and profile photo in shared endorsements that appear in ads.” You’ll still see the recommendations of other Google+ friends, your information just won’t be available to your friends.

Jeff Taylor

I'm just an ordinary guy living an extraordinary life. I'm also an attorney and I blog about Android for lawyers. You can follow me on Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, or Google+.

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