I seem to be continuing a theme of how our privacy is affected by internet companies that we more or less trust.

You can read what I wrote about the Privacy Tradeoff and Web Trust earlier this week.

Today the discussion continues because some friends of mine started the discussion on Facebook and got me involved.

Google has announced that they may be using YOU in their ads.

You can opt out if you want.  Google has made it pretty clear and obvious that I have that option and each time I turn on my computer(s), there was a special message from Google alerting me to this change, encouraging me to read about it.

The skinny on this is that Google is now planning on using the power of “Word of Mouth Endorsements” to help their advertisers boost effectiveness of their ads.

Facebook has already been doing this.  I know because I spend my companies money on Facebook ads and for us, some of the most effective are the subtle “Scott Howard likes Mountain Dew”   type of ads on Facebook.

If Google follows the Facebook model, they are simply going to use what you have shared that you like and let your friends or connections know that you like this product, service or company.

In the traditional mass media world I’ve worked in, we called these testimonials, and they were pretty powerful.  If you were featured in a radio commercial for your favorite jeweler, you weren’t paid, you were famous!

Google, Facebook and the other web ad platforms are going to target their ads, so you aren’t going to become famous, unless you have thousands of connections, and even then, you are in a pool of possible endorsers for those connections.

Like I said, you can opt out of being used by Google if you want.

Most folks won’t opt out because they have no idea what this means and the default setting is Use Me.

(The original discussion that my friends were having went deeper as the question dealt with SEO and authorship, something that most of us don’t worry about or know about anyway.)