Shame on LinkedIn; Don’t You Dare Put Me In Your Ads

100 million LinkedIn users may be in for a nasty surprise. Last week the company stealth added a feature to use your name and photo in advertising campaigns – and the company has set all users to accepting this abuse by default. This invasive feature came without any notice and it is a classic example of the really shoddy business practices that treat users with disregard.

Where was the announcement on user’s home pages informing you of the change and your choices? 

In one fell swoop LinkedIn joined the ilk of  Companies that change their terms of use and privacy policies without notice, add features that impact your privacy, security or safety without notice, that default (or later change) your settings to public.

These companies knowingly exploit you and your information for their next buck, and if this is what the company’s recent IPO represents, it will be time to dump the company.

Discovering how to opt out is ridiculously convoluted.

Not only does LinkedIn default you into their ad scheme without notice, opting out isn’t intuitive. To remove yourself from involuntarily becoming part of an advertisement take the following steps:

  1. Click on your name to see the dropdown with Settings
  2. Click on the Account option
  3. Select Manage Social Advertising
  4. Uncheck the box saying LinkedIn can use your name and photo in social advertising

Companies that respect their consumers work hard to give you full control over the information they collect and store about you. They are respectful of how they share any information about you and selective in choosing the companies with whom they share your information.

Respectful companies make it easy to understand their privacy policies and terms of use, notify you in advance of any significant changes to their terms or services, make it easy for you to remove your information from their sites and put strong measures in place to secure your data. Learn more about how respectful companies behave in my blogs Your Internet Safety and Privacy Rights – Standards for Respectful Companies, Privacy Policy Changes – Some Companies Get Notification Right, and Kudos to Groupon for Notifying Consumers of Privacy Changes – and Doing so in Advance of Rollout.

Right now, the public remains a sleeping giant, but naptime is over.

If you want a better internet experience, if you want to be respected, protected, secure and in control online it will only come by rewarding companies that do the right thing and letting companies disrespect you know you’re angry.

Trampling consumer privacy once is all any company should be able to get away with. If LinkedIn pulls a second stunt like this it will be time to dump the company – they will quickly figure out what that does to their IPO.

STORY UPDATE: LinkedIn responds to privacy uproar: LinkedIn is scaling back the level of detail it provides in its “social ads,” which showed if members in a users’ network followed certain products or services. In a blog post Thursday, produce management director Ryan Roslansky said that the company will now list how many members in a person’s network are following an advertised product instead of using individual profile pictures.

Chalk up one for the users – it’s not a perfect response, but certainly better than the full exploitation.



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