Getting featured in ads on LinkedIn without your consent: don’t blame LinkedIn

All of us know that corporate social networking is such a profitable business nowadays and the best example if LinkedIn. This can be understood by the fact that recently, by going public, Linkedin generated through its IPO raised $352 million as funds! What makes it so profitable is the fact that though you love to share photos on Facebook, you need a good face to present yourself to your next company or employer and for that, the best option is LinkedIn.

Though LinkedIn is not Facebook at all, still it has a few darker points of the latter, which include pulling you into social advertising without your consent or any knowledge. To put it simply, LinkedIn intentionally allowed companies and organizations on its website to advertise on it using your profile picture or name. This was done to make the ads more relevant, because what can be more convincing than real people voting for a product or a company. This was of course a concern unless you had already unchecked the relevant box to opt out from such advertising and majority of us don’t know where to locate the box! So it was pretty much in LinkedIn’s hands. You could become the official cheerleader of the company and you wouldn’t even know about it. But facing a backlash from the users, LinkedIn’s Director of Product Management was forced to make a blog post, “we hear you loud and clear”. And the result is that the company has made changes in the way the ads were displayed and how they looked by removing the photos of users and their names and replacing them with the line “11 people in your network follow the company XYZ on LinkedIn”. LinkedIn also gives you the option to opt out of such acts of being a company spokes person without your knowledge, by editing  ‘manage social advertising’ setting in your account.

But this is not something new and has been in practise for a long time now. Facebook has been doing it since its inception. When you like a product or a website or any page on Facebook, you give total rights to the company, product or page to use name along with your profile picture in its advertising. And the best part is that you can’t even change the settings as face book says “….your name and profile picture do not have privacy settings. If you are uncomfortable with sharing your profile picture, you should delete it – or not add one.”