If you’re on LinkedIn, you’ve just given the network permission to use your profile information to advertise.
Chances are you didn’t know this. That’s because LinkedIn neglected to directly tell users about the change. They announced it on the company blog, which few users read. (Update: LinkedIn said in a blog post today that they also made the information available on an internal banner ad.) That explains the gap between the June 23rd post and today’s outrage.
Under the guise of enhanced privacy and security, LinkedIn opted all of its 100 million users into being featured in ads that “may include the fact that you have recommended or endorsed a product or service.”
The ads, which are shown on LinkedIn, portray users as “brand cheerleaders” for their companies and preferred products.
For example, if a user runs a LinkedIn search for “Starbucks,” and you work at Starbucks, your name and picture might show up as an example of a Starbucks contact suggestion.
Most users would prefer not to serve as spokespeople for their workplaces without their permission, and are readily opting out of LinkedIn’s default. When the news showed up on the front page of Reddit, some commenters said they were opting out of LinkedIn entirely.
“I realize I can opt-out, but seeing as you decided to opt me in without sending so much as a warning email, I’m just going to delete my account instead,” said one former LinkedIn user.
To opt out yourself, go to your homepage and click Settings, then Account, and finally, Manage Social Advertising. Uncheck the box that allows your information to be used in an ad. For a more detailed description, try Brand Impact’s tutorial.
LinkedIn says in its June 23 post that “Your name and image is never shared with any advertiser.”
LinkedIn is not the first social network to shift its policy without backlash. Not everyone was happy with Facebook’s facial recognition enhancement, and Google Buzz got slapped with a lawsuit when it opted users into a service without permission.
In other words, LinkedIn should have expected this.
The Daily Dot contacted LinkedIn for a statement, but has not received one as of press time.