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Google’s new ad policy & how to prevent it

Guilty pleasures. We all have them. I’m a huge fan of Disney but liking them doesn’t do anything for the ‘sophisticated young lady image’ I try to emulate in my public life. Let’s face it, grown-ups who like Disney aren’t the coolest. So, I’d be quite happy to NOT advertise the fact I like (obsessively love) Disney.

Of course, I realise I’m shooting myself in the foot here by admitting my love for cute mice named Mickey and Minnie, blue-bodied genies and princesses with long hair in this post. (If that’s not advertising what is?!) However, confession is the first step and I’m seeking help to prevent me from wearing sparkly shoes, singing little ditties as I do the housework and pretend the urban fox who visits my garden to disturb my rubbish bins is my best friend.

Your guilty pleasures may be as silly as mine – Each to their own I say – and you have a right to keep them a secret if you so wish. Google, on the other hand seems to have a slightly different idea.

It may have come to your attention that Google is changing its privacy policy. From today (Monday 11th November 2013), Google users will find themselves unknowingly advertising products for the company, thanks to a massive change Google is making to its terms of service.

The New York Times brought this change to our attention earlier last month stating, “Google has announced a change to its terms of service that will allow the company to use your name, photo and company endorsements to be included in ads from 11th November.”

The change notes down a user’s follows, comments, and +1s as “shared endorsements” for a product or service. So, it takes things you’ve “liked” (or +1′ed, or rated) around the web, then uses your name and face in advertisements that show up in other people’s Google search queries.

For many people, this use of data is unacceptable. Facebook has introduced a similar program from which some unlucky users found themselves in a #awkward position.. One guy had the great misfortune of becoming a spokesman for a giant barrel of personal lubricant.

One good thing to point out is Google will build ads using information from adult users, so anyone under the age of 18 will be automatically opted out. It’s not all doom and gloom for the rest of us who are beyond adolescence. Google provides the ability to opt out of the new shared endorsement program:

  2. Now uncheck the box.

Hurrah! You’ve now opted-out of Google’s endorsement program.

N.B. If you don’t have a Google Plus account associated with your Google account, you’ll have to sign up for one.

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