Have LinkedIn Quietly Introduced Some New Settings That Potentially Seriously Affect Your Privacy?

This is the alarming headline that appears on an email that seems to be going viral at the moment and the answer is quite simply.......NO! I am not sure where this email originally came from, I have seen it in several forms now but I can assure you it is pure scare mongering and you really have very little, if anything to worry about!

Lets examine the text of this email and I will provide my comments in red

This is how it reads;

LinkedIn have very quietly introduced some new err not really, the newest of these was last summer! settings that potentially seriously affect your privacy and ability to prevent unwanted emails (spam) I disagree that they encourage spam - if there is one area that LinkedIn are red-hot on, its preventing spam!

These new not new settings are defaulted ON and include allowing LinkedIn to use profile information, names and photos in third-party advertising. Please see the links below for opting out.

To reach the hard-to-reach settings options Strangely enough you can find them in 'Settings'. How hard is that?, the following URLs should take you directly to them (cut and paste into your browser if they don't work as live links)

Manage social advertising: https://www.linkedin.com/settings/?modal=nsettings-social-advertising&tab=account

This is the only one that could be described as remotely 'new' (last summer). To be fair LinkedIn have been a bit naughty by introducing this as a 'opt out' feature and not really telling anyone about it. When it was originally introduced it was something to be concerned about because your picture could literally appear on someone else's advertisement on LinkedIn and there was a strong possibility that it might be a competitor (because it was relevant to companies you follow.....and we often follow competitors!). At this point an advert could look like this;

There was an initial outrage and LinkedIn swiftly changed things so that now all you see is something like this;

Its pretty naughty of LinkedIn to make it a 'opt out' feature but having said that I don't really believe its a big deal. Have a check of your home page now and look for the ads on the right, its pretty rare that you see any links at all in my experience. That said, just to be safe you may wish to opt out anyway as I can see no advantage to opting in. To do this just click on the link above or go to settings > 'Account' and you will see the social advertising setting as below;

Simply untick the box and you are done. Manage enhanced advertising: https://www.linkedin.com/settings/?modal=nsettings-enhanced-advertising&tab=account What a load of B*******! This one is just about advertisers targeting where their ads appear - you will get ads anyway, this just (in theory) means they will be more appropriate to you. I really can't see the harm in that and it is far from a new setting, its been around for as long as I can remember.

Data sharing with third-party applications: https://www.linkedin.com/settings/?modal=nsettings-data-sharing&tab=groups Again not a new setting and just refers to 3rd party sites that use LinkedIn's API to access certain data, for instance a product called Nutshellmail which will email your network activity feed to you. This product gets its data via the LinkedIn API and it's actually a very useful tool. Again I am not sure this is such a big deal because this information is visible within LinkedIn anyway but you can easily switch it off if you are concerned. Simply click the link above or you can find it under the 'Groups, Companies and Applications' setting. Partner InMail: https://www.linkedin.com/settings/?modal=nsettings-partner-inmail&tab=email

This one is controlled under 'Email preferences' in your settings (incredibly difficult to find isn't it?.......not!). This mainly refers to Recruiters who buy one of LinkedIn's recruiting tools and want to send multiple Inmails to potential applicants in a shortlist. It has two settings as you can see below, the other refers to non recruitment advertising which I very occasionally receive - I think last year I might have received half a dozen or so Inmails selling me something, these are usually from pretty large corporates with sizeable budgets. I know for a fact that LinkedIn have very strict controls over the amount of Inmails that can be sent out in this way, as a certified trainer I was keen to get LinkedIn's agreement to help me promote a series of free webinars and whilst they were keen to help they just wouldn't agree to send out multiple Inmails as they have very strict rules on how many they can send out themselves.

The reality is that if you get spam on LinkedIn it is most likely to be direct messages from other users rather than corporate 'Inmail shots'.

So there you have it, all just a storm in a tea-cup for me. Those of you who read me often will know that I am not adverse to criticising LinkedIn and I don't believe they are angels but on this accusation I think they are pretty much 'not guilty' as charged!