How to Keep Your Mug Out of Google’s New Ad Scheme

Future Tense
The Citizen's Guide to the Future
Oct. 11 2013 6:32 PM

How to Keep Your Mug Out of Google’s New Ad Scheme

Google ad examples
Google's "shared endorsements" in action

Screen shot from Google.com

On Nov. 11, Google will begin to plug users’ names, photos and reviews posted to sites like YouTube and Google Play, into online advertisements. Under Google’s new terms of service, the company has granted itself the right to republish these so-called “shared endorsements” as marketing fodder.

That is, unless you opt out (or unless you’re under 18—Google isn’t including minors in this change). To do so, click here. Scroll to the bottom of the page. Find the box next to the text that reads “Based upon my activity, Google may show my name and profile photo in shared endorsements that appear in ads.” Uncheck it. Hit save.

Google opt-out

Screen shot from Google.com

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But first, fortify yourself. Because Google will try to make you vacillate. “Are you sure?” it will ask. “When you disable this setting, your friends will be less likely to benefit from your recommendations.

Granted, some people are unashamed of publicly declaring their devotion to Creed’s debut album My Own Prison. But many others would feel better knowing their Google Play ratings or other tastes weren’t going be used in what seems to be a very broad program. According to the New York Times,  “Google will be able to show what the company calls shared endorsements on Google sites and across the Web, on the more than two million sites in Google’s display advertising network, which are viewed by an estimated one billion people.”

As the New York Times and Los Angeles Times both point out, Google’s move follows a similar tack by Facebook to incorporate users’ data into advertisements. “The ads are very similar to those seen on Facebook, like when the social network suggests a page you should follow and also tells you which of your friends have already liked that page,” the Los Angeles Times article says, noting that Google’s ads will appear in Search, Maps, and Google Play.

But unlike Facebook, which this week made it harder for users to operate in semi-obscurity, opting out of Google’s new scheme is just one click away. 

Future Tense is a partnership of SlateNew America, and Arizona State University.

John Kruzel is a Slate contributor. You can follow him on Twitter.

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