Linkedin users data useage furore

12 Aug 2011
Posted by adrianb

I don't think I am alone in once believing that Linkedin would be a bit more responsible with my data than Facebook, but the latest furore over data privacy and Linkedin seems to show I have been proved wrong, and I think that Linkedin product manager Ryan Roslansky doth protest too much in his blog on the matter.
Any information professional involved with handling personal data should know that when an organisation introduces substantive changes to the way in the way it uses your data (in this case associating your picture and name with third party advertising) best practice should mean that users get a clear explanation of the impact of the changes, ahead of the option to opt-in to the changes.
Given the very key nature of the information – your name and face – and the fact that these might be used to endorse brands that you feel strongly about, or potentially even worse, show your boss that you are looking for another job vacancy, I for one don't think that two Linkedin blog postings on the matter are sufficient. Neither is a banner ad that supposedly informed Linkedin users of the changes – I, probably along with many others didn't see the banner ad because, like lots of the tech savvy professionals who use Linkedin, I routinely block scripts that are not served by the main domain of the website I'm viewing (see my next Blog “Third Party Domain Scripts Beef” to see why I routinely block these third party programs).

As an information professional working for Linkedin, my immediate concern would be that we had contravened EU data protection legislation. The legal issues are referred to in this PCWorld article.
There are likely to be very negative reactions from the many professionals who use Linkedin, and given the typical Linkedin user profiles, the rather half baked – not-apology from Mr Rolansky doesn't make it any better, and I've moved from a position of “default” trust in Linkedin, to one of just the opposite.