Google+ Privacy Update Using Your Face in Ads: Unethical or Genius?

PrivacyI have always said that Google will rule the world and win the social media war in the end, simply because they can learn from their social media predecessors on how to not make the same mistakes.  Again, Google will take a page out of Facebook’s hard lessons book and update their privacy policy before they corner themselves into a class action lawsuit like Facebook did earlier this year (and lost).

In a proactive move Google sent out an alert to all of their users clarifying how their Profile name and photo might appear in Google products (including in reviews, advertising and other commercial contexts).

Sound familiar? That’s because privacy activists were up in arms over the same thing regarding Facebook’s sponsored stories and which resulted in a $20M class action settlement. The only difference here is that Google is being upfront and transparent about it, something they’ve been from the start. Whereas Facebook has lost some love over the years and has gotten in some trouble due to their lack of transparency. (It should be noted that since Facebook has gone public with their stock, they have been making efforts to be more transparent, however, still more work to do here).

How does it affect you?

Well, if you write reviews on Amazon or product websites normally, then the only difference is that now your face will be next to those reviews (the positive ones obviously). But if you’re so worried, then you have three choices:

  1. Opt out of sharing your endorsements – here
  2. Stop using Google + (but that would be a shame)
  3. Don’t write product reviews under your real name

Benefits of this new feature?

Well, if I put my marketing cloak on, then I’d tell you that it’s genius for amplifying your personal brand and I’d recommend that you go out and leave recommendations on products in which you want to be known for in hopes that a brand will pick your testimonial/endorsement to use in their next ad.


Summary and Poll

I realize that there may be privacy issues here, like when someone dies and then their testimonial is seen in an ad by a loved one who knows nothing about this social media policy and freaks out and threatens to sue Google. (I doubt someone brought this up in the product management team on this product). However, even without the personal branding potential, I just don’t think it’s that big of a deal.

Do you think it’s a big deal? Vote in the poll below or leave a comment – would love to know what you think.

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About Tracy Sestili

Tracy Sestili is CEO and Chief blogger at Social Strand Media. She is also the author of Taking Your Brand from the Bench to the Playing Field -- Social Media Fundamentals for Business.