Yes, aggregated, anonymized trend data is sold. It's a minor, but not trivial, revenue source for Google.
Well I don't really know about other divisions. I just happened to run into this because I setup a google adwords account recently for our company and managed to catch this setting and turn it off. More importantly, the terms of service allows google to sell any data to anyone.
Your TOS states:
"When you upload or otherwise submit content to our Services, you give Google (and those we work with) a worldwide license to use, host, store, reproduce, modify, create derivative works (such as those resulting from translations, adaptations or other changes we make so that your content works better with our Services), communicate, publish, publicly perform, publicly display and distribute such content."
We do not share personal information with companies, organizations and individuals outside of Google unless one of the following circumstances apply:
We may share aggregated, non-personally identifiable information publicly and with our partners – like publishers, advertisers or connected sites. For example, we may share information publicly to show trends about the general use of our services.
Not exactly comforting. Though I suppose for any online advertising company, such things are boiler plate legalese stuff to avoid future lawsuits. When things are going good user privacy is important from a PR perspective but when things go bad and wall street/investors/other idiot MBA types turn on the pressure, most companies fold and will sell out to make money.
I don't think that's what DataSift is doing though. They appear to be selling individual user information.
Maybe but why would individual user information be useful to anyone? I mean .. if I was trying to sell a product, I'd want to target an entire class of people conforming to certain criteria rather than specifically Bob or Sally.