Google’s Friend Recommendations: Why Would I Want to be an Advertisement?

| by Justin

As I’m sure you’ve heard, Google’s new Terms of Service opens up a friend recommendation system for ads seen by your friends. You can turn it off here. There are two main reasons I have turned mine off:

What have I signed up for?

I have no idea what I will be advertising. What possible reason would I sign up to a service where I don’t know exactly what brands/products my name will be attached to. I have an interest in protecting my personal brand- which is what Google wants to leverage to sell products to my friends.

Now, theoretically, I might be open to this. In fact, there are certain brands where I would absolutely want to tell my friends that they should use some product. The problem comes when Google attaches my brand to a product that I don’t stand by, or don’t care about. When Google does this, and my friends are successfully “tricked” by me to support a product that I may not actually support, it effectively tarnishes my reputation.

Now Google could make the argument that because I liked, +1, whatever, that I support it. But until now I was not “on the hook” for the products/brands I interacted with. In fact there may be things I am downright embarrassed to have interacted with and would never want to advertise.

Google could fix this by giving me an easy place to audit the things I’ve liked and the things I am willing to support. This would turn this friend recommendation system into an actual recommendation system, instead of pasting my face on a random selection of products I may actually dislike.

Fuck you, Pay me.

The other main issue I have with Google’s new initiative is the fact that they are getting me to advertise for free. If Google pays a website money for getting someone to click on an ad, then Google should pay me for getting someone to click on an ad.

If this friend recommendation scheme improves the clicks per link, then I should be paid out for improving that ad. Google obviously feels that my reputation has monetary value, since this friend recommendation system improves the value of the ads seen by my friends.

This is where the recommendation system breaks: I’m providing value to Google, but Google isn’t providing any value to me. Where is my incentive to sign up for this? How does recommending some bullshit product to my friends (which feels a lot like spamming) help me in any way, shape or form? Especially when there’s the chance that it could hurt me, as mentioned in the previous section.

If Google wants me to improve their ads, then they can straight up pay for the privilege. It wouldn’t be too difficult to calculate the difference in clicks my name made. And if I got a penny for every bullshit product that I helped sell, I would absolutely attach my name to it.

Google’s friend recommendation system isn’t something that I am against on principle. It is something I am against in practice. A few adjustments and I would consider enabling this on my accounts.

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