Member photo u-turn on #linkedin adverts, group admits it could have 'communicated intentions more clearly'

News by Dan Raywood

LinkedIn has changed a proposed policy on using members photos on its 'social ads'.

LinkedIn has changed a proposed policy on using members photos on its 'social ads'.

According to a blog post by Ryan Roslansky, director of product management at LinkedIn, the appearance of adverts will change from featuring members' photos to simply how many members ‘follow' a certain group or company.

Roslansky acknowledged user feedback saying ‘we hear you loud and clear'. He said: “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 confirmed that a change to the privacy policy in June included the ability to opt out of the ‘first small test of these social ads' and it had explained how members could opt-out of sharing their recommendations with their network.

He also said: “For those members who may have not read this on our blog, we included a banner ad on the site that contained a link to the new documents, including a summary of the changes and links from which all members could easily access their account settings.”

Roslansky said: “We never share personal information with third party advertisers. That was true prior to the launch of the social ads test and remains true today. The only information that is used in social ads is information that is already publicly available and viewable by anyone in your network.”

Now you see them. LinkedIn removes members photos

He admitted that with regard to the social ads it had been testing, it ‘could have communicated our intentions - to provide more value and relevancy to our members - more clearly'.

“Most importantly, what we've learned now is that even thou  g  h our members are happy to have their actions, such as recommendations, be viewable by their network as a public action, some of those same members may not be comfortable with the use of their names and photos associated with those actions used in ads served to their network,” he said. 

Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant at Sophos, said: “Unfortunately this is just the latest example of a social network introducing sensitive new policies without giving users the chance to say first whether they want to opt-in. We're used to this from Facebook and it's disappointing to see LinkedIn follow in their footsteps.

“This feature certainly wasn't available when many of LinkedIn's users first signed up for the service and as the majority of people don't tend to check privacy settings after they've set up an account, many people won't even be aware that their image and name could be used  in this fashion.”

Catalin Cosoi, head of the online threats lab at Bitdefender, said: “A social network's most valuable assets are users and their information. With this in mind, we can reasonably expect that at some point, new features that deliberately or accidentally expose users' data to other parties outside of their network (either other users or advertisers) might be rolled out.

“Generally speaking, there is little to be done in order    to avoid these privacy invasions. The big question is whether social networks could do more to help users understand when changes are made and what the implications are.



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