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Will you star in the next Google or Facebook ad?

J.D. Sartain | Nov. 13, 2013
Recent updates to Google and Facebook privacy policies give the companies permission to use your photos in commercial content such as ads. Users aren't pleased -- but, at the moment at least, they are almost powerless to stop it.

Facebook, Google Users May Be Mad, But They're Not Leaving - Yet

According to Gartner Research Director Brian Blau, a growing number of media reports make it clear that people really dont want to be used for advertising in this way.

"Facebook users like connecting with their friends and family - and, increasingly, they're planning events, finding jobs, and even generating their own content from lots of mobile apps and services," he says. "But bringing users into the advertisements of others is something that users are not expecting. When Facebook had earlier experiments showing users' faces next to ads, it was not well-received and that program was eventually canceled."

When asked if Google and Facebook will lose users/members as a result of these new policies, Blau adds, "Many users will not be happy with this development, but they are almost powerless to stop it."

Blau explains that, while Facebook and Google both employ these types of tactics, it's not only them. Other consumer platforms take liberties with user images and identities. Some individuals may like being a social media rock star with a wave of advertisements following them from pillar to post and, thereby, raining down on all their friends. But many users don't want to endorse any product or brand.

"We're not going to comment beyond the language you already have, and we're not going to speculate," a Google spokeswoman says. "There are no ad formats that use shared endorsements currently (the only change was the updated setting), so any discussion of how such ads might work are hypothetical."

The language she refers to was this paragraph from the Google Terms of Service Update: "When it comes to shared endorsements in ads, you can control the use of your Profile name and photo via the Shared Endorsements setting. If you turn the setting to "off," your Profile name and photo will not show up on that ad for your favorite bakery or any other ads. This setting only applies to use in ads, and doesn't change whether your Profile name or photo may be used in other places such as Google Play."

"Facebook has and will provide controls to opt out, or users can simply not post public pictures and limit their visibility scope," Blau says. "Overall, users probably won't abandon Facebook simply because of this new feature - but, if enough people slow down their overall usage of Facebook [or Google], these companies will want to know about it."


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