LinkedIn Slammed For Privacy Violations, Changes Ad Policy
So much for "socially" enhanced advertising.
Faced with mounting criticism over using members' names and photographs in ads, LinkedIn on Friday agreed to alter its recently launched "social advertising" feature.
Essentially, LinkedIn was allowing third parties to use members' names and photos in ads, while LinkedIn partners could send members promotional content as part of a marketing or hiring campaign. What's more, third-party applications were given access to user data on LinkedIn unless members opted out.
The newly public company said its goal was to deliver more useful ads, but some LinkedIn users felt it was a privacy violation, especially because they were being asked to opt out of the feature rather than opt in.
In a statement, LinkedIn spokeswoman Krista Canfield admitted: "The privacy and trust of our members is central to what we do at LinkedIn and, as such, we strive to remain true to our commitment of providing our members consistent, clear and easy-to-use controls for their LinkedIn account settings."
LinkedIn now plans to change how the recently debuted ads appear. Users will still need to opt out of the social ads feature, but people's names and photographs will no longer appear. The company also said it plans to change the program so that ads will not display users' photographs.
In late March, prior to its IPO, LinkedIn said it had surpassed 100 million members, and remarkably, was adding new members at the rate of 1 million a week.
In a blog post, LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner said that was "the equivalent of a professional joining the site at faster than one member per second. Weiner also noted the site is used in 200 countries, with more than half its users coming from outside the U.S. The company reported revenue of $161 million for the first nine months of 2011, and net income of $10 million.