Just imagine it now: Your face in an ad on a Google search results page. For some, the thought is exhilarating. Bring on the fame! But for others, it’s slightly more terrifying.
Recently, Google announced it would implement new changes to its Terms & Conditions on November 11th. While you may be wondering if people actually read those things, Google’s managed to raise some eyebrows among many web users due to something it calls Shared Endorsements.
What’s a shared endorsement? Well, you know those Google reviews and +1s you give to various brands, products, restaurants, and the like? Well now your review, along with your Google Plus name and profile picture (if you’re over the age of 18) will be prime game for popping up in ads for said brands and products in Google search results. While this only means that content you already entered into the universe of the Internet will be more easily visible, it definitely has a certain creepiness factor that’s rubbing some people the wrong way.
If you’re wondering why Google’s moving forward with this, consider it a part of its mission to connect people with “the most useful information.” If the majority of consumers review a product online before purchasing, the logic here is that seeing endorsements from your friends and family might help sway your opinion for the better. It’s a way for the search giant to help users find exactly what they need in what Google hopes will be a shorter amount of time. Think of it as an expedited version of word of mouth.
However, if the thought of your product review along with your mugshot appearing in Google search results isn’t settling well, here’s what you can do to make sure your name, photo, and reviews remain hidden.
- Turn off the option to share your endorsements in ads in the Shared Endorsements section of your Google Plus Account Settings. Scroll down towards the bottom of the page until you find a box with the following text next to it: “Based upon my activity, Google may show my name and profile photo in shared endorsements that appear in ads.” While this language has been tricky for some, the box should ONLY be checked if you WANT your endorsements (profile name and picture) to appear in ads. Uncheck the box if you want your information to remain private. Click “Save” after you’ve made any changes.
- Or, you can change your Google Plus profile name and picture to make your review anonymous. If you want your opinion to be heard but don’t want your name attached to it, this may be a preferable alternative.