Google and Facebook are using your identity and content to target your friends with ads for products which you promote through your comments, photos, and reviews. Think of them as endorsements, or commercials, which you get to star in. But, for free, and for products and services you might not really want the entire world to know that you use.
Google will allow users to opt out of being used to shill products, while with Facebook, you can choose not to be mentioned in what’s known as social ads. These are ones which show your name right by ads. But, Facebook won’t allow you to choose not to be mentioned in its Sponsored Stories. With these, your content is used as ads.
Twitter doesn’t allow you to choose not to have your name be in any ads, though you can choose not to view retargeted ads and follow recommendations.
Would you still use Facebook and Google if they charged?
Privacy is considered by many people to be very important, and they might not like their faces and comments being used to advertise products, especially if they are not being paid for these endorsements.
But, if companies like Facebook and Google didn’t advertise as much, one day they might feel like they’re pressured to make money by charging for their services. Would you pay money to use these social media services? Would you rather feel as if you’re being used, or would you rather pay extra money to use Google, Facebook, and Twitter?
Ads are sometimes annoying, but without them, it would be harder to find the money these companies use to pay for their engineers, designers, and servers.
Perhaps you wouldn’t mind paying extra money. But, your friends might not feel the same way, and if they weren’t also a part of social media sites you use, much of the reason you use these sites would be gone. So, love them or hate them, there is a reason for social media sites to have ads.
How can we make being used as shills as painless as possible?
If you choose to bow down to these social media companies and accept being used as their shills to advertise products — it’s going to be done, anyway, whether you like it or not, unless you opt out of what they allow you to opt out of being used for — why not make the best of the situation?
If there has to be ads, ones which mention products you might actually be interested in, and ones which your friends have bought and recommend, might be somewhat less annoying than other ads. You might be even pointed to purchasing items which you actually would enjoy owning, based on a friend’s five-star review, even if it’s something like a book you might like to download onto your electronic reading device (ERD) of choice.
Thinking of trying out a local restaurant, or perhaps a current movie? If your friends have gone to the restaurant first, or saw the movie before you have, and they recommend it via an ad, that sort of ad might not be as objectionable as ones you see on the TV, or hear on the radio.
It may be that some day soon, we’ll consider social media ads to be word-of-mouth endorsements from our buddies.
Choosing not to opt out of social media ads, then, could be seen as your opinions mattering to others, and saving your friends from having to do research or search through ads that have little to do with what they really want or care about.
On November 11, Google will begin showing what they refer to as shared endorsements. These shared endorsements will be potentially seen by not only people on Google-related sites, but also on other sites across the world wide web, on over two million different sites, where your photo might be seen by a billion viewers.
If you like a local bakery enough to mention it online, or if you give a book, movie, or some other product four-and-a-half stars, the bakery, movie theater, or music store could use your recommendation to advertise their own store, movie, and other products.
Google will at least offer you the choice to opt out of being used in these ads, and if you are under 18, Google will automatically exclude you from being used in these sorts of ads. If you’re a Google Plus user, your comments will only be shared within a limited circle of people.
You hate ads, and you hate the idea that your privacy might be violated by having your recommendations and likeness included in social media ads?
While you can opt of of being made a shill of in some cases, in others, if you want to continue using their services, you will be subject to being used to make these companies even fatter “Fat Cats” than they already are.
Written by: Douglas Cobb