Even before Microsoft’s multi-billion dollar acquisition of LinkedIn at the end of 2016, some expressed concerns about its implications on data privacy. After all, one of the world’s largest software companies now owns and can access one of the world’s largest databases of personal information. No doubt the high price tag was motivated by the potential for this data to massively enrich Microsoft’s own services – services you may not have willingly (or knowingly) consented to. Yet these new Terms of Service highlight even more ways your profile is potentially passed around.Along with making this profile more available to search engines, LinkedIn have enabled “certain affiliates, partners, customers and other permitted developers to display to their users information from the profiles of members they meet, write about, manage or consider for talent and other opportunities”.
But who are these third parties? Along with the aforementioned search engines, like Google and DuckDuckGo, they include Yahoo Mail and Outlook, and your profile will be made visible to users of Apple and Samsung’s native email clients, along with Cortana and Evernote.
Intriguingly, this sharing also applies to “company brand administrators”, which means that any of your engagements with a company update, or when you follow a company, enables the Company Page admin to collect your profile information and engagement activity. As these Company Pages are often managed through third-party applications (Marketo or Pardot, for example), your profile information might be shared with these, too. Once accessible by the databases of these CMS applications, how much control will you have over your profile then?
Now, I know what a lot of you are thinking. LinkedIn is a social network and these changes have effectively made your digital footprint much bigger. This increase in visibility means it will be far easier to find you online. If you generate business and leads through LinkedIn this is great news!
However, many already feel that their LinkedIn timeline is awash with meaningless platitudes and irrelevant connection requests from people that they have never met, known, or see any constructive link to. And, even when they do connect, there is frequently no attempt to create a dialogue and engage in a professional (or personal) conversation.
Sometimes we simply do not want that visibility. I think making us more available way beyond what are often carefully created personal networks can surely only heighten the feeling that LinkedIn could be losing its relevance for people who do not feel to need to collect connections like Pokémon.
Moreover, while you might trust LinkedIn with your profile, can you say the same for all the third parties? Remember, it was only last year when we learned about a hack that saw the leak of 117 million LinkedIn IDs. The more places that store your profile only magnifies the chances of it falling into the ‘wrong’ hands, or at least sold to hands you weren’t expecting…
Another new feature that lets you discover new contacts based on your location. In much the same way as Facebook, Discover Members Nearby will show which of your first level connections are in your vicinity. Say, if you were at a conference or event at wanted to meet them. Is this crossing the line from convenient to creepy? It would not be difficult to argue the case that this oversteps the line.
The redeeming feature here is that you can choose to turn off this third party sharing option, and that Discover Members Nearby will require an opt-in. Still, whatever your thoughts, I would suggest taking a closer look at your LinkedIn Public Profile to remind yourself what you’re sharing and who you could be sharing it with…
Blue Sheep GDPR Assessments and Guidance
To help you identify the areas you need to work on before 2018, Blue Sheep has teamed up with data compliance specialists to provide a two-step GDPR Assessment and Process Review.
The GDPR Assessment will provide your organisation with a full diagnosis of your marketing database and processes to enable you to take the action you need to ensure compliance.