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article imageOp-Ed: Google endorsements — You could become an ad with your face on it

By Paul Wallis     Oct 14, 2013 in Internet
Sydney - This has been rumored for a while but now it’s fact. Google will be introducing a new “user function” endorsing products, selling these DIY ads as a product. The question of fairness springs to mind, as does a risk of unwanted public exposure.
Sydney Morning Herald, from the Washington Post original:
Google has made a fortune selling advertisements; now it is trying to put its hundreds of millions of users to work as company spruikers, using the profiles, pictures and recommendations of ordinary people to endorse products and services on the internet.
After the policy takes effect on November 11, users who review a video on YouTube, or a restaurant, could see their name, photograph and comments in ads on any of the 2 million websites that are part of Google's display ad network.
There are caveats. You can opt out, and you won’t be in the scheme if you’re under 18. The question is whether this is a good thing for users.
Imagine: You endorse a product which is a no-no to your significant whatever. There’s your face, smiling, with a five star rating for the thing.
You’re trying not to get killed by someone, and you don’t realize that your fizzy photo gives that someone a lead about how to find you.
Your photo contains someone in the background who’s a problem for your friend.
Your name winds up on a botnet list complete with a product that tells them how to phish you.
Your boss discovers you spruiking a competitor’s product.
Your IT security firm finds you endorsing “questionable” software with 1001 uses, none of them legal, around the world.
Google isn’t responsible for people’s bad moves. It’s just making some bad moves a lot easier. Facebook did something similar recently, with a thunderous silence in terms of user support.
Is this exploitation? People in TV commercials get paid. That’s apparently not on the table, or in a shelf somewhere.
The company can also draw on endorsements made with Google's +1 button, which is similar to Facebook's ''like'' button and appears on internet sites.
Users could limit the reach of their advertising endorsements so that reviews were shared with only a small circle of friends on Google Plus, the company said.
As a Google + user, I’m underwhelmed. There is a way round it, just not endorsing commercial products, but I’ve also written a few positive reviews, are they next?
In fairness (however grudging), I don’t mind sharing things with friends online.
In practice, I could draw a few lines through being an unwitting testimonial for something without knowing about it.
This is obviously not going to be the end of it. I say it’s time consumers and users got some value out of their contributions. Would that be a problem? Yep, but it’s about time those who make billions out of net users got a little more generous to the people who make them rich.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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