Personal product endorsements on Google and Facebook? Already exist

By Robb Hicken/ BBB’s chief storyteller

It was astounding the number of senior citizens in the Eagles Club meeting hall in Boise who said they use social media.

Of the 130-plus people attending the luncheon, a third raised their hands to show they use Facebook, Twitter,  YouTube or Google+. And, two-thirds of those people were using social media daily.

“I get on it every day to see what my grand kids are doing,” says a gray-haired woman in the back of the room. “They post such cute pictures of themselves.”

Of the 40 senior users, only about a quarter of them said they post pictures on a regular basis (once a week).

And, when I asked them how many received a check or compensation for being a “product” personality, no one spoke out. So, I explained.

Personal product promoting is the latest attempt by Facebook and Google to generate advertising revenue for the massive audiences they draw. Here’s how it works: Google grabs your photo and places it into and ads when your friends and contacts do a Google search  on Google Play and YouTube. Those friends could be duped into believing you endorsed a product or service because of it.

“Sponsored Stories” are a similar product performed by Facebook, in that your face appears next to articles of interest you “like.”

The question is whether its legal, and whether or not the “face” in the advertisement should be compensated.

There’s not much chance of getting around the fact you gave Facebook, or another social media site, permission to use your pictures when you signed in. (Problem is you whizzed right through it. The second problem is the social media sites change permission rights, send out updates, and again, you whiz right through them without really understanding the changes.)

So, now you understand, you don’t want someone using your picture to promote their product.

When Instagram said it would be giving photos to Facebook, users were given an opt out function. Google has an out-opt button (though it doesn’t apply to Google Play). You can’t opt out of Facebook, according to bloggers.

Making wise choices on your “like” – especially in Google and Facebook – will slow down this uses. Also, read carefully the privacy agreements before you sign (or mark the box).

If  social media sites charged an admission or subscription fee, it may be reason to complain, and seek compensation. But the service is free.

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1 Comment

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One response to “Personal product endorsements on Google and Facebook? Already exist

  1. Mark Burrows

    Robb Hicken has brought up a peach of a topic here and a fine example how people are impatient to get things going by becoming button happy and hitting next or continue. This is why just about every site will simply highlight the terms and conditions and ask if you accept. No one forces you to read the terms and conditions, Yet within such terms and conditions are all the fine print that lay out the nasty little loopholes that if ignored will snare you.
    I always take the precaution to read the small print. I am aware they can use my photo. Places that can use my photo, I will post one where I do not look all smiles and happy. Very little chance they will use such a photo for ad endorsement. Besides, my friends and associates know who I am and are not put off by my stoic serious looking mug. Also the other upside is such photos on profiles make me less of a target. Scam and con artists tend to avoid serious looking faces because a serious face can be a dangerous face. The ironic thing is I do not have a serious personality at all, I am a completely fun loving guy, I just have the advantage of the tools of my career, my life experience, and my dedication to protect consumers who use the internet.
    My point being, please, take the time to read the terms and conditions, understand the fine print. Know your choices and options. If you don’t like them, back out then spread the word about what bothered you.
    If we do nothing, then nothing can or will change. If the word gets out that a service is not satisfactory, this does a couple of things. It tells that site it needs to change its policy and it gives the heads up to other sites to make changes to sway users to join their site.
    I understand that social sites that are free depend on advertising to keep them growing. I have no problem if they have a side panel with its own scroll bar to place these advertisements. That gives consumers the choice to view and click if they so choose. Yet the site must monitor the advertising and make sure that each sponsor will permit full return to the social site without entrapment. If people want to check the advertising site again, they should be able to simply bookmark it while there and return later. This is the best and ideal solutions. No pop ups, nothing crowding into your viewing or return comment area, and no accidental trips to places you do not wish to go. Some sites have done this, but many have not. I have made the suggestion to all of the major social sites, but I am but one voice. It takes a community of consumers to make a point.
    Your image is your own. Yes, if you have posted it on a free site, they may have the right to use your image. The question is. Do they have the right to sell it to a commercial company for the purpose of advertising? Does the site have the right to profit from your image? Does the commercial company have the right to profit from your image?
    I would certainly challenge that in a court. I would insist such an agreement would required and written and signed contract, not a dubious click of a button bypassing terms and conditions. It is not even close to a verbal agreement. I would challenge it on the opposite extreme of Caveat emptor otherwise, let the buyer beware, but as earlier stated, since it is a free site, no one bought anything.
    If I found my face in an advertisement I did not approve, you can bet your bottom dollar that I will go after someone. I am not the type to lose. I know what a release form to use your image looks like. On television other than news broadcasts, if you show up in the frame of a camera and they do not wish to take another shoot, you will be approached with a release form to allow your image into the program. Most people are thrilled just to sign it for the moment of fame to share with family and friends. Still, you have an advantage and can negotiate for a fee, which to a point they will pay, if no agreement is made. The director has to decide either to do another shoot or blur out your image. Well, blurring or digitizing is the less expensive option although it does not give a clean value to the production. Then some people just flat out refuse, most likely because they have something to hide.
    Point again, your image can not be used in commercial domain without your written consent, and by all rights you should be compensated for it. Even movie extras get a stipend, and get to eat at the set Commissary and mingle with the stars. Not a lot of money, but more of a thrill, and excitement. It won’t matter if the movie is a low budget job that gets clobbered by the critics, it their face pops up, they have sold at least one DVD.
    PROTECT YOUR IMAGE! It can be used in media without your permission, under the news and journalism act. Thus, the reason the famous are plagued ruthlessly by the paparazzi by so called photo journalists mostly who work for slander rag magazines and nosy fan magazines. You need not worry about paparazzi, but you may be photographed as part of a crowd at an accident, you may even be photographed and interviewed as a witness and can not receive any compensation. If you refuse, not a good idea, because that makes you suspect even if it has nothing to do with the current accident situation. You tell a reporter you refuse to cooperate and they will start to check you out on slow days. Refusal tends to mean something to hide. Journalists love nothing better than finding what is hidden. Truth be told it is better to refuse to talk to a police officer than it is a journalist, because they will just haul you in, and then they have to question you and decide if you are relevant to the case. If not, they will just release you as some one who probably watched too many tough guy movies.
    Still, if there are legal reasons your face can not be shown, such as being in the protection system, you would have to contact your handler and have them come in with a smokescreen to protect your identity. Law officials and journalists know they must back off. They can’t ask questions, and they can’t dig around. Case in point. This is proof alone why your image is a personal thing and you have rights to control it.

    Mark Burrows

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