Google has unveiled its plans to include users’ names, pictures and comments in ads endorsing products and businesses, in a drive towards ‘social advertisement’.

Google sign-1418781

The changes appeared Friday in an update to Google’s terms of service and will allow the search engine to include its users’ information in ‘shared endorsement’ ads that will appear next to search results and can contain pretty much any public information on a user’s profile that is deemed relevant to a specific ad.

Google has pushed a ‘summary of changes’ page through a banner that appears at the top of the screen when using the site, and have given a brief explanation of their plans:

“We want to give you, and your friends and connections, the most useful information. Recommendations from people that you know can really help. So your friends, family and others may see your Profile name and photo, and content like the reviews that you share or the ads that 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 that you’ve chosen to share that content with. On Google, you’re in control of what you share. This update to our Terms of Service doesn’t change in any way who you’ve shared things with in the past or your ability to control who you want to share things with in the future.”


Google has been both careful and courteous to give users a simple opt-out option on the Shared Endorsements page; where users can completely opt-out of having their information appear in ads by simply un-checking the “based upon my activity, Google may show my name and profile photo in shared endorsements that appear in ads” box at the bottom of the page.

So far, the reaction to the news has been very similar to when Facebook  implemented similar features to its site earlier this year: a whole heap of negative. Users have posted to Twitter and Facebook to vent their anger. One person described the changes as “unacceptable & unwelcome,” and another simply asked what many of us thought when first heard the news: “what the heck, Google?”

Sources: Reuters [UK]