Google LogoIf you use Google’s services, and that includes Search, Gmail, YouTube, Google+, Maps, Google Groups, Google Play, Google Apps for Business, or any of myriad other services the Mountain View, CA company offers AND you’ve created an account to use those services — which you likely would have — then you’ll want to pay attention to a recent change in Google’s Terms of Service that’s going into effect on November 11th, 2013 and how your information, including your name and profile photo, can be used within Google’s products such as reviews and … advertising.

In essence, unless you explicitly opt out, your name, profile photo, comments and ratings may be used in Targeted Advertising displayed to your connections who see ads from Google’s advertising network.

Google calls this new feature “Shared Endorsements.”

So Is Shared Endorsements a Bad Thing?

Well, not necessarily.

After all, if you comment or rate a product you very likely already understand that others may see that rating or comment.

Yes, it’s true, things we post online are there for everyone to see.

But what if you “+1” a local business and then that business advertises on Google’s ad network?  Well, your “+1” of that business may be shown as an explicit endorsement in the ad they run.

Kind of like the old days of TV when the star of the show you’re watching suddenly appears in an ad for coffee or breakfast cereal.  It’s a bit … disconcerting, and it closely ties (too closely perhaps) the show to the product.

Google, for their part, says:

We want to give you – and your friends and connections – the most useful information. Recommendations from people you know can really help. So your friends, family and others may see your Profile name and photo, and content like the reviews you share or the ads 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 you’ve chosen to share that content with.

Feedback from people you know can save you time and improve results for you and your friends across all Google services, including Search, Maps, Play and in advertising.

Okay.  I suppose that’s fair considering how much we pay ($0!) for Google’s excellent products like Gmail.

But what if you’re concerned about privacy or you don’t like the idea of acting as huckster for that business you “liked” on Google+?

It’s All About Choice

The good news is that Google gives you the option to easily “opt out” of their new Shared Endorsements feature if you’d prefer.

Here’s how you do it:

1) Log in to your account at Google by visiting:

2) Next, click Google+ in the menu on the left.

3) Scroll down to the section labeled “Shared Endorsements” and click Edit

4) Finally, uncheck the box labeled: Based upon my activity, Google may show my name and profile photo in shared endorsements that appear in ads.

5) Click Save.

Shared Endorsements Setting

That’s it!  Your +1’s, comments, and ratings will no longer be used to help sell the products of others.

To read more about Google’s new Shared Endorsements feature — which is going into effect along with their new Terms of Service on November 11th, 2013 — please visit the following links: