LinkedIn Changes Course with 'Social Ads'

Lora Bentley
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Check out highlights from Lora's poll of industry experts on the topic of online security.

You'd think after all the fuss Facebook and Google Buzz have created over the years by automatically adding a new feature before telling users what they're doing, other social networks would pay attention so as not to make the same mistake. But the folks at LinkedIn opted to learn this one on their own, I suppose.

 

The more business-oriented network recently released a feature it's calling "social advertising." Unless a user opts out of the service, it will allow LinkedIn to "sometimes pair an advertiser's message with social content from LinkedIn's network in order to make the ad more relevant." According to ZDNet, the company warned users the change was coming via a privacy policy update in June. But who - besides lawyer-types like me - actually reads updates to privacy policies?

 

Sophos' Naked Security blogger Paul Ducklin explained:

[The company] did prefix its official policy with a summary, and it provided a link at the top of the policy page to show you the changes since last time...Even the summary and the changelog top 1000 words each.

Needless to say, users were peeved. Fortunately, it didn't take long for LinkedIn to get the message. As of Thursday night, according to The Wall Street Journal, "the company retreated, informing members that their photos would no longer accompany ads. Instead, ads will state the number of a user's connections who either follow or recommend the product or company."

 


LinkedIn's Ryan Roslansky admitted the company should have done a better job of telling users what it wanted to do.



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