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Wham bam thanks for giving up your Facebook and Google privacy, ma’am

Oct 13, 20134 mins
Data and Information SecurityEnterprise ApplicationsFacebook

Your face may be featured in a Google ad and you can no longer have 'no one' view your Facebook Timeline.

Ensuring your privacy is expensive. Just ask Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, who allegedly paid over $30 million to buy four homes next to his own Palo Alto residence so he could ensure his privacy. According to the San Jose Mercury News, the 29-year-old multibillionaire’s buying spree began after he learned that a developer planned to purchase his neighbor’s house and then “build a huge house and market the property as being next door to Mark Zuckerberg.”

Although Zuckerberg purchased both residential properties located next door and two behind his 5,000-square-foot home, he is leasing them back to the families who live there. Since one neighbor allegedly didn’t want to sell, Zuckerberg had to drop a cool $14 million for the 2,600-square-foot house. While Facebook’s mastermind is a fan of his own privacy, he is clearly not a fan of your privacy, as Facebook recently removed the privacy setting for Timeline searches.

Supposedly only a “small percentage” of people were using the privacy setting of “no one” when it came to controlling if your name showed up as users searched for you. If another user tagged or named you in a post, then anyone who clicked on your name could find your profile photo. If you were one of those people allowing “no one” to look up your Timeline by name, then you will see the warning below. After you sign in and click “Okay I understand,” that privacy setting will be removed.

If you don’t want a stranger or stalker to find you on Facebook via name search, Facebook suggested that you block that person. Using a fake name on Facebook violates the social network’s terms of service, but apparently being a “friend” of privacy does too. So whip out your ESP in order to gaze ahead at the future, divine any fake Facebook names stalkers or crazy people might use, and then block them.

Google may use your face in an ad

Thanks to Google’s Terms of Service update, your photo may soon appear in Google’s ads. But it’s not only your face that might be featured, without compensation, in advertisements. Google announced plans to incorporate your username, reviews, comments, ratings, profile photo and +1s in advertisements seen by your friends.

Shared endorsements will start on Nov. 11, and unless you opt out, then, according to the New York Times, “Google will be able to show what the company calls shared endorsements on Google sites and across the Web, on the more than two million sites in Google’s display advertising network, which are viewed by an estimated one billion people.”

Google gave examples of how your “activity (such as reviews, +1s, follows, shares, etc.)” may be used along with the “public profile name and photo you have chosen on Google+” in “commercial or other promotional contexts.” Google wants you to know that you are in control and you can opt out of sharing your activity with your friends . . . but only in a limited way.

Settings: 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.

Google are your sure warning about disabling shared endorsements

If you do opt out, then you are presented with a message warning you that your “friends will be less likely to benefit from your recommendations.” Your friends will probably survive, being that they were able to decide if they wanted to buy a product or service without your endorsements in the past.

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ms smith

Ms. Smith (not her real name) is a freelance writer and programmer with a special and somewhat personal interest in IT privacy and security issues. She focuses on the unique challenges of maintaining privacy and security, both for individuals and enterprises. She has worked as a journalist and has also penned many technical papers and guides covering various technologies. Smith is herself a self-described privacy and security freak.