LinkedIn Listens, Reconsiders

After two volatile days of negative user reaction, LinkedIn has reconsidered its plan to use the names and pictures of members in third-party advertising.

I had no earthly idea, when putting up this blog post on Wednesday morning (which, 2 days later, has now been viewed 200,000+ times), that such a firestorm would be the result. Nor did I think that LinkedIn would take such prompt action. What we’ve been telling people all these years about the power of social networks? – well, it’s true! :>)

While it’s too soon to fully gain perspective on all this, because it is now hitting national and international media outlets, it’s not too soon to dispel misconceptions that may occur. So…

1. Lest anyone think I have it in for LinkedIn – some kind of vendetta – I don’t. I was a very early adopter and have been a (paying) Premium member for years. My outpost there, including managing several groups, is substantial. I actually like LinkedIn a lot – I’m sure that fueled my sense of disappointment about the new policy.

2. LinkedIn didn’t change course this week because some semi-obscure blogger in NJ “blew the whistle.” They did it because they listened to the sentiments of thousands of their customers. It was smart of users to speak their minds, and very smart of LinkedIn to pay heed.

3. I fully embrace the fact the we make a conscious choice to give up a lot of privacy when engaging in social networks. However, experience continues to show that people have a visceral and negative reaction to these two things:

– the use of their name and face for promotion by someone else in uncontrolled or unapproved circumstances

– forced opt-in at maximum exposure levels when privacy policies are changed

It doesn’t matter if technical, under-the-radar notification is given. What may be legally defensible is not always professionally and personally palatable. Companies really need to not only ask themselves, “can we get away with this?” – but also, “how will this be perceived?” Perception is reality – especially in privacy issues.

4. One person can make a difference – as part of a network. The alert came to me from one unexpected source (in my pharmaceutical network), and once I tossed it up in a quick blog post, it spread like wildfire via another part of my social network.

Kudos to LinkedIn for reacting so quickly. I hope other social platforms will learn the lesson about respecting customers first. As we’ve seen this week – it matters. A whole lot.

(Image credit – Travis Isaacs on Flickr)


Hire Steve Woodruff  if your identity and message need clarity (personal or company Brand Therapy)

Recent posts on Connection Agent:

>> A Box You Want to Uncheck on LinkedIn

>> LinkedIn, Privacy, and Notification

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Twitter: @swoodruff | @ConnectionAgent


About Steve Woodruff
Steve Woodruff is a blogger, a Connection Agent, and a consultant in the pharma/healthcare industry. He specializes in helping people and companies make mutually beneficial connections.

16 Responses to LinkedIn Listens, Reconsiders

  1. Pingback: LinkedIn, Privacy, and Notification – Let’s Discuss! « Connection Agent

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  3. Lonny Gulden says:

    Thanks for the follow up to your original post. I too am a big LinkedIn advocate, even with all their warts. What frustrates me the most is they often don’t listen to their user base. I am glad they did this time.


  4. Excellent work, Steve,
    Might you now use your influence to get LinkedIn to stop letting people from Groups I belong to send me sales pitches and spam? I like Groups and I like to keep the box checked “Let other people from this group send me messages,” because they can be personal, pertinent and interesting. I don’t like it that increasing numbers of people have realized they can get around the opt-in rules of email by using LinkedIn Groups – sending messages to hundreds of folks they are not connected with in any way. I hear you about liking LinkedIn – and I do, too. What I’m increasingly frustrated with are the folks who pollute the environment there. That affects all of us.

  5. Jerold says:

    You can’t take all the credit. There was huge buzz about this on twitter and facebook, nothing to do with your blog. Nice try though.

    • As I mentioned in my original post, I was certainly not the first to see this – someone passed along a private alert to me (and others) in their network. I just put a spotlight on it Wed. morning (blog, then Twitter/Facebook/Google+) and everyone else did the real work spreading it. I don’t know what sort of notice was taken before that time, since I wasn’t aware of it either! Do feel free to pass along any public links that others put up alerting to this before me – I’d be happy to highlight them!

    • Josh says:

      Reading comprehension, get ya some!

      C’mon guy, anyone who read that post could easily see he’s not trying to claim responsibility for this change.

  6. Hi Steve,

    Nice job! Glad to hear that you sharing the LinkedIn privacy issue also generated some impressive blog traffic. Keep up the good work, your blog(s) are well worth the subscriptions in my Google Reader!


  7. Jerold,
    I didn’t think Steve was taking all the credit, but I can see how it could be read that way. Here’s my take. I’m for thanking anyone who is willing to criticize the increasing privacy incursions that these “social” networking companies promote. Social media is almost a 99% booster-ism business. Thank god, I say, for the even occasional 1% who are willing to say “enough!” This saying is more true today than when I first heard it, “If it’s free, you’re not the customer, you’re the product being sold.”

  8. Pingback: Social Media Alert – LinkedIn | SMLRT

  9. I was grateful to you, Steve, for your original post which I then RT’d. I watched it go viral very quickly within my network, thus making your point about overlapping/adjacent networks and how social networks work. Getting credit is hardly the point — and certainly you’ve been overly modest. I agree with Michael who writes, “Thank god, I say, for the even occasional 1% who are willing to say ‘enough.'”

  10. Caesar Wong says:

    This might be one of the benefits of a public listing. Things like this make shareholders nervous, so the reaction will be swift to prevent share price impact.

    • Jeanne Blachowicz says:

      GREAT point, Caesar. It always makes sense to put yourself in C-level management’s shoes in order to most accurately predict/analyze a company’s actions.

  11. Pingback: When Your Branding Zings « Connection Agent

  12. Pedro Leal says:

    Hi Steve
    Thanks for the pertinent remark.
    I wonder how much of this ‘stuff’ is going on foreign countries that use ‘english’ networks and don’t read the user policy…hmmm.
    Thanks again!

  13. Required says:

    When did they listen? I just heard about this, checked my settings and all of the nasty ones were checked. Not acceptable.

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