On October 11, 2013 Google announced a change to its terms of service that will allow the company to include a user’s (for users age 18 and over) profile name and photo, reviews, and ads they +1’d in advertisements on Google web properties (e.g., Search, YouTube, Play store). These “endorsements” will potentially be shown to the people the user has chosen to share content with.
Users can change the options on the Shared Endorsement setting page to prevent their name and photo from being used in advertisements.
Implications for professionals
If you are using a Google+ profile in your professional work, you will want to consider the implications of your name and photo being used to endorse products and services in Google advertisements. Many organizations, especially Extension, have policies in place which govern employee endorsement of products and services.
For example, the University System of New Hampshire Conflict of Interest Policy as it applies to Extension employees (Section 7.10.1) states:
“Each employee must exercise extreme caution and professional judgment, deliberated with diligent care, when using any brand name in any service, work product, or program resulting from performing the responsibilities of the position of appointment. As a general rule, promoting or endorsing brands of commercial products is prohibited.”
If you are governed by a similar policy, you will probably want to disable the shared endorsements setting.
Google’s handling of change
Google has been very forthright about the policy change and has been presenting users with banner notifications and Google+ notifications regarding the new terms and how users can change their settings:
Other social media networks have similar policies
According to the New York Times:
“Facebook has been aggressively marketing social endorsements, which it calls sponsored stories. For example, if you post that you love McDonald’s new Mighty Wings on the chain’s Facebook page, McDonald’s could pay Facebook to broadcast your kind words to all your friends.
Facebook does not allow its users to opt out of such ads, although users can limit how their actions on the social network are used in some other types of ads.
Twitter also enables advertisers to show public tweets in their ads, but requires advertisers to get the permission of the original author of a message before using it in an ad.”
Understanding how each network can use your information is a critical network literacy skill. It is important to be proactive, and ensure that your information is shared in the way that is most appropriate for you.
This article (Implications of social media “endorsements” for knowledge workers) was originally published Monday October 13, 2013 on the Military Families Learning Network blog, a part of eXtension.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.