Google Sets Plan to Sell Users’ Endorsements

Not wanting to be outdone by Facebook in the battle for "worst ways to use user data", Google announced upcoming changes to their privacy policy today to allow Google to use adult users' names and likenesses as unofficial, and unapproved endorsement (unless you really consider 'using Gmail/Youtube/Gwhatever' an approval of endorsement) for products/services across the web.

When the new ad policy goes live Nov. 11, 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.

If a user follows a bakery on Google Plus or gives an album four stars on the Google Play music service, for instance, that person's name, photo and endorsement could show up in ads for that bakery or album.

How is it that we continue to let companies make this the default behavior and make us jump through hoops to opt out of being used, without compensation, to hawk the wares of every random company online? Something like this should be something that users have to voluntarily opt-in to participate, not opt-out. Google knows that hardly anyone reads their privacy policy updates, and hardly anyone goes in to opt out of things, because they have no idea that they can, or even that they need to.

A comment on a product or service on one service (Maps or Play) does not constitute an endorsement of that product or service elsewhere.

The benefits we are getting from the companies who are collecting our information online are nowhere near comparable to the value those companies are getting out of us. As a result, our control over our information, and our ability to negotiate control and value of that information has been completely relegated to back room deals and ad bidding that we have no avenue for influencing.

Source: New York Times

Let's go ahead and get the screams of me being a paranoid, Google hating troll out of the way pretty early here, because this is a real issue, and I'd prefer to have an actual discussion of the implications of this move, and the longer view of our identity and the way our information is used by these companies online.

So, Google fans, let's hear the justification for how this is acceptable? Do you really think it's ok to be an uncompensated and unknowing endorser for products just because you may have commented on their Youtube video or left a review on a web shop?