Thanks to tweaks made to its terms of service today, Google will be able to use its users’ names and photos in select advertising beginning next month (November 11). The updated terms of service, first noticed by The New York Times, specifically allow for the company to use what it calls “shared endorsements,” which, the Times explains, occur only when a user comments, +1s (Google’s equivalent of a Facebook ‘like’) or follows pages or brands included in Google’s services.
That means anytime a Google Plus user endorses a company—say, McDonald’s—by giving it a +1, Google can then use those endorsements alongside an ad it later runs for the company. Google will only share the endorsed ads with the people who originally saw the endorsement, making it all the more important that users specify the friend groups, or circles with which they share their feedback and reviews. Otherwise, a publicly shared endorsement will allow the company to include a user’s name and photo in online ads distributed to just about anyone. Nearly 400 million users engage with Google Plus either directly or indirectly through interaction with other Google-owned sites like YouTube.