Beware of new Google ad policy

Google wants to use your image and name in ads without compensating you. That is, unless you complete their simple opt-out procedure.

In the never-ending quest for revenue, the search giant has new terms of service going into effect on Monday. And unless you make the right selection, Google will have the right to take your name, photo and product reviews from your Google+ account and turn them into what they’re calling “shared endorsements.”

Let me say this first: This only matters if you have a Google+ account. If you only have a Gmail account, but not Google+, this does not pertain to you. And if you don't have either and only use Google for searching the Web, you can definitely ignore this.

But if you are in the Google+ orbit, Google’s new shared endorsements policy means they can serve up custom ads that will go only to people they know to be your friends, family and colleagues. Those ads will have your picture and words from you coupled with a promotional message for their paying advertisers. (Under the new terms of service, those who are younger than 18 won’t have any of their material used in shared endorsements.)

Want to opt out of Google’s invasion of your privacy? To its credit, the company is making it very easy for you. You’re already opted in as a default, but just a single uncheck will prevent your online life from being fodder for commercial use.

Once you're signed into your Google+ account, visit to opt out.

Consumer expert Clark Howard's column appears here each Thursday in conjunction with Deal Spotter, a weekly print section in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Find more answers to your consumer questions at Clark's website.

-- Clark Howard -- Save More, Spend Less, Avoid Rip-offs -- for the Atlanta Bargain Hunter blog

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