The LinkedIn story is viral, but you may not have seen it. It was uncovered by an avid LinkedIn user. LinkedIn was hijacking user photos and reputations to advertise third-party products. It’s a default option hidden under settings. Users could uncheck the box if they knew where to find it – and what it meant. Here are a number of key points from a much longer post by Ungar Cover.
Surely you’ve seen the blog post A Box You Want to Uncheck on LinkedIn by now – I think I saw it Tuesday and it quickly went viral. In essence, LinkedIn is doing social advertising. Unbeknownst to most users, they had opted in to have their name, photo, etc. appear in ads that their connections might see.
The backlash was fast and furious. I saw at least 10 tweets on it in my timeline. 5 of my Facebook friends posted on it. And some of my LinkedIn connections posted it directly to LinkedIn. People were furious. Many people compared LinkedIn to Facebook, who are somewhat notorious for doing things like this.
Sometime yesterday, August 11, LinkedIn’s Ryan Roslansky posted Privacy, Advertising, and Putting Members First to the LinkedIn blog. They saw what was going on, and addressed it. Roslansky starts with a bit of a defense of what LinkedIn did, and talks about the various ways that they notified members – the blog and a banner notes on the site. He also talks about how they made it easy to opt out of this.
I say LinkedIn made 2 big mistakes here:
- They really did the minimum they could to notify members. I read the LinkedIn blog, but not every post. I’m on the site almost every day, but not all members are. How many members never saw it? And certainly most members wouldn’t have clicked on it.
- The biggest mistake was deciding to have everyone opt in. They just should not have done that. As a friend of mine said “Uncool, LinkedIn. Uncool.”
And the “how-to” from Steve Woodruff on where to find the box!:
Apparently, LinkedIn has recently done us the “favor” of having a default setting whereby our names and photos can be used for third-party advertising. A friend forwarded me this alert (from a friend, from a friend…) this morning.
Devious. And I expect that you, like me, don’t want to participate.
1. Click on your name on your LinkedIn homepage (upper right corner). On the drop-down menu, select “Settings”.
2. From the “Settings” page, select “Account*”.
3. In the column next to “Account”, click “Manage Social Advertising” .
4. De-select the box next to “LinkedIn may use my name, photo in social advertising” .
Nice try, LinkedIn. But, no thanks!
*UPDATE: After you finish with Account, check the new default settings under E-mail Preferences (such as Partner InMails); and Groups, Companies & Applications (such as Data Sharing with 3rd-party applications). It’s a Facebook deja vu!