I don’t know about you, but I get frightened easily. Especially by how much Google knows about me. Yesterday my office chair fell apart and so I did a Google search for a balance ball chair; in the right margin, up came an advertisement for Jockey underwear. Let’s see: I ordered from Jockey yesterday. Do they really think I need *more* underwear today?

Maybe the bots aren’t smart enough to know whether I actually purchased that item or just browsed and might need a reminder to pull the trigger. Or maybe they can’t tell what items are likely to be re-purchased and which will last me the next two years? I mean, if I purchase bus tickets to Chicago I very well might need them again next week. But underwear?

In any case, Google knows me well. Too well.

And now they’re invading even more.

As of November 11, Google is able to tell my friends, family and colleagues that I endorse certain products, unless I opt out. My picture and even quotations from me can be used in ads for these items!

Here’s what Google has to say about their new policy:

“Here are a few examples of shared endorsements on Google. The ‘Summertime Spas’ example below shows a shared endorsement displayed in an ad:

Setting: Shared Endorsements in Ads

This setting below allows you to limit the use of your name and photo in shared endorsements in ads. It applies only to actions that Google displays within ads; the ‘Summertime Spas’ example above shows a shared endorsement appearing in an ad on Google Search. Changing this setting does not impact how your name and photo might look in a shared endorsement that is not in an ad — for example, when you share a music recommendation that is displayed in the Play Store. You can limit the visibility of activity outside of ads by deleting the activity or changing its visibility settings.”

So after I buy my balance ball chair, and especially if I write a review of that chair, my connections may get ads telling them that I recommend the chair. Yikes! As a businesswoman, this frightens me even more than having Jockey underwear ads pop up in my browser. I do *not* want to use my position of respect (dare I say influence?) to sell products unrelated to my field. How obnoxious!

And to make matters worse, Google won’t even give me a piece of the pie if my influence leads to a sale (yes I am mercenary too).

Thankfully, there is a way to opt out. But insidiously, I received no announcement from Google warning me about this change in their privacy policy. Instead, I heard about it through my networks.

It will not surprise me if a petition starts circulating asking Google to have the default setting be that someone’s picture and information can NOT be used to promote products. But as of now, it’s up to me and others like me to spread the word.

If you have a problem with this policy, please take the opportunity to opt out.

Note: If you joined Google+ after October 15, it seems you are automatically opted out. If your account is older than that, the default is to opt you in. Beware!

I may as well take this opportunity to invite you to connect with me on Google+. I happen to know that many of you have accounts, since I am already connected to you. And since I opted out of this Google+ craziness, you don’t have to worry about Brenda-endorsed Jockey ads appearing on your computer screen!

Finally, if you do start getting strangely endorsed advertisements, you may want to let the alleged endorser know. That person probably wants to know how to stop the madness.


  1. Yep that is scary Brenda – thanks for sharing the details. I recently asked Google to make some of my personal information private as it was showing up on websites that I did not give permission to.

    What might be even scarier is when Google forces all the millions of email users to sign up for Google+ accounts. If you do not you may face the reality of not being able to read your email.

  2. Thanks so much! My G+ account is older, so I did need to go in and opt out. I really try to limit how much of me gets out there in that fashion, so I really appreciate your warning!

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