E-Threats Social Networks

Google+ Face Exposed in Online Ads Makes Users Vulnerable to Cyber-Crooks

Did you ever dream of becoming a model or actor? No matter if you have the potential or not, Google will share your face in online ads if you don’t review your Google+ settings. The search giant warned about the privacy change a month ago, and the features will now be available worldwide.

The change also exposes Google+ users to cyber-criminals and social engineers who will now be able to aggregate more public information about people’s likes and products, and the services they use.

Google+ Face Exposed in Online Ads Makes Users Vulnerable to Cyber-CrooksJust as with Facebook’s Graph Search, journalists and tech specialists already found examples that should make a user worry about his reputation.

“You get a message from a friend: ‘Hey, didn’t know you were using those adult diapers! Great choice!,’” Fox News wrote. “It turns out your picture is attached to an ad going out to thousands of people – and you didn’t know a thing about it. You’re mortified to discover that Google + simply culled your likeness and tied it to the ad.”

Users can disable the option by unchecking the box on the Endorsements setting. The feature was allegedly designed to help users’ friends find “cool stuff online.” Activity such as reviews, +1s, follows and shares may now be used along with users’ names and photo in commercial or “other promotional contexts” that Google hasn’t explicitly defined.

Fox News also argued that, if celebrities live off their endorsements, common users should too.

“What are you, chopped liver?” tech reporter John R. Quain said. “Why shouldn’t you get something for it? If your endorsement is so valuable to Google, shouldn’t they pay for it? The company could at least toss some Bitcoin your way or a free latte.”

The technology journalist also argued the new feature is deceptive. Just because users liked a service or a company, it doesn’t mean they would recommend it to millions of people worldwide or that they will endorse the company’s CEO.

The Shared Endorsements feature expanded the Google’s “+1” program by adding pictures and quotes to a company’s ad if users followed its services.

About the author


Bianca Stanescu, the fiercest warrior princess in the Bitdefender news palace, is a down-to-earth journalist, who's always on to a cybertrendy story. She's the industry news guru, who'll always keep a close eye on the AV movers and shakers and report their deeds from a fresh new perspective. Proud mother of one, she covers parental control topics, with a view to valiantly cutting a safe path for children through the Internet thicket. She likes to let words and facts speak for themselves.