100 Million Member LinkedIn Drives Into Privacy Ditch, Hits Reverse

LinkedIn is responding to user complaints about its new social advertising model, which asked its 100 million users to ‘opt-out’ if they didn’t want advertisers to pair their message with content – including photographs – from users’ profiles.

LinkedIn privacyLinkedIn is responding to user complaints about its new social advertising model, which asked its 100 million users to ‘opt-out’ if they didn’t want advertisers to pair their message with content – including photographs – from users’ profiles.

In a blog post on Thursday, Ryan Roslansky, the company’s Director of Project Management, said the network will no longer display the names and photos alongside advertisements on the LinkedIn Web site.

LinkedIn’s new social advertisement model was introduced in June, but began drawing the ire of LinkedIn members, consumers and privacy advocates alike in recent weeks as it was rolled out to the full network.

Social advertising presents an opportunity for large social networks like LinkedIn and Facebook to leverage their huge base of non-paying members by mining personal data and selling it to third party marketing firms for use in targeted advertising.

According to the company’s policy:

“LinkedIn may sometimes pair an advertiser’s message with social content from LinkedIn’s network in order to make the ad more relevant. When LinkedIn members recommend people and services, follow companies, or take other actions, their name/photo may show up in related ads shown to you.”

That was then, this is now. Writing on his blog, a chastened Roslansky said that the company was up front about its plans, but “we hear you loud and clear.”

“The trust of our members is central to what we do, and we always aim for clarity, consistency, and member control in all matters related to privacy and data,” he wrote. 

Accordingly, LinkedIn is making it easier to disable the feature.

Social advertising isn’t new. However, companies that want to experiment with it often walk a tight rope. In this case, LinkedIn’s decision to make the sharing of information on by default seems to have struck users as a violation of privacy.

Identify expert Kim Cameron  says that this sort of thing may fly over at Facebook with its slightly younger crowd who may not understand the implications completely or care at all for that matter. However, LinkedIn’s older, mostly professional users are more concerned with the dissemination of their personal information.

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