Stopping Google from using your face in their ads

A screenshot of the search results page where a profile picture is listed next to a review.

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If you’re one of the many people who regularly use Google Chrome, Gmail or other Google products, you may have noticed a recent change in its privacy policy. The most disturbing addition is this:

“If you have a Google Account, we may display your Profile name, Profile photo, and actions you take on Google or on third-party applications connected to your Google Account (such as +1’s, reviews you write and comments you post) in our Services, including displaying in ads and other commercial contexts. We will respect the choices you make to limit sharing or visibility settings in your Google Account. For example, you can choose your settings so your name and photo do not appear in an ad.“

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What this means is that when you “like,” rate or “+1” something, Google can use your name and picture to advertise it in other users’ search queries. Basically, you become a spokesperson for a product or service whenever you casually click the “like” button while browsing the Internet.

This sounds like it may not be that big of a deal, but it definitely could be embarrassing in the wrong situation. (a similar program implemented on Facebook caused one unfortunate user to become the spokesman for personal lubricant). Fortunately, there is a way to opt out of these advertisements. They don’t want to make this easy for you to find, so we wanted to give you a quick list of instructions.

Here’s how to keep from becoming an unpaid spokesperson on Google:

  1. Click this link. This will take you to the Shared Endorsements page on Google Plus.(You must be logged in to your Google Account)
  2. Scroll down to find the checkbox that gives Google permission to use your name and Google Plus profile image for endorsements. Uncheck the box if it’s checked. Some users have said that it is unchecked by default, but you should take a look anyway.
  3. Click “Save.” Congratulations. You now no longer have to worry about your face being used to sell things to your friends and colleagues.

Of course, this could process could and probably will change in the future. Always keep an eye on your privacy policies so you’re never taken by surprise.

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