Google updated its Terms of Service on Friday to remind consumers of the importance of using mobile devices safely (don’t Gchat and drive) and keeping passwords secure with two-step verification. Oh, and one more thing: Users’ names and pictures could show up in ads and reviews if they don’t change their privacy settings.
The Mountain View, Calif. search giant said the change will show users recommendations from their network based on actions, such as +1 (equivalent to a Facebook like), commenting, and following. But the company’s quick to emphasize that the content will only be seen by people with whom users have shared that content. “On Google, you’re in control of what you share,” the announcement said. But unless adult users change their Shared Endorsement settings (they can do so here), their likeness could show up in ads beginning Nov. 11, when the updated Terms of Service goes into effect. Minors are exempt from the policy, and their actions won’t appear in Google’s ads.
The exclusion of minors will hopefully avoid some of the contention Facebook has encountered. The social network landed in hot water over Sponsored Stories, which included users’ profile pictures, names, and personal information in its ads. Privacy concerns over the rights of minors resulted in a $20 million settlement in August. However, unlike Sponsored Stories, which are only on Facebook, Google’s ads are far more ubiquitous, showing up in YouTube, Maps, Play, and most importantly, Search.