New LinkedIn “Privacy Policy:” Be Careful Where You Click

New LinkedIn “Privacy Policy:” Be Careful Where You ClickLinkedIn contains a wealth of important information about business people and is a source of personal and corporate self-marketing.

Many people who use LinkedIn do not even associate it with social media — it is so unlike Facebook and Instagram in that it does not have the sense of immediacy and intimacy that is the attraction, as well as the scourge of traditional social media. However, there is no question that LinkedIn falls within the definition of social media. It is a way of broadcasting personal and corporate thoughts, ruminations, ideas, and requests across the internet, through both desktop and mobile devices, reaching millions of other people simultaneously.

Do you know what you have agreed to when you use LinkedIn?

LinkedIn is totally transparent in telling us what it does with the information that it acquires from users’ use of its social platform. LinkedIn does not hide its intentions. Nothing is hidden. LinkedIn tells the full horror of its data collection techniques right on its website. One only need read to see its Privacy Policy.

Are you aware that if “you live in the U.S., LinkedIn Corp. controls your information”? LinkedIn informs you about this at http://ow.ly/uO4vJ.

What does “control your information” mean? Does LinkedIn really intend to own your identity? More important, how will LinkedIn go about this?

According to its written policy:

“We collect information when you sync non-LinkedIn content — like your email address book, mobile device contacts, or calendar — with your account.”

This means that when you use the full panoply of LinkedIn’s features and 3rd party apps, your private information which is housed on your mobile device or computer may be uploaded to LinkedIn’s servers. Once it has captured your data, what will LinkedIn do with its “control” of your personal information?

For the social media platform, the answer is straightforward:

“We target ads to you on and off LinkedIn, including by your use of LinkedIn (for example, your LinkedIn search history) or clicking on a LinkedIn ad.”

“Advertisers receive the URL of the page that you are on when you click an ad on LinkedIn.”

By signing up for LinkedIn (or for that matter, for most social media platforms), you automatically opt-in to allow the flow of a wealth of information about you: from LinkedIn to its advertisers, which then resell the information to data collection companies and send targeted mobile and static advertisements to you.

Did you intend to? You joined LinkedIn to connect with business colleagues, but in actuality, you also consented to the use, by this social media company, to collect, use, store, sell, rent, and publish your geolocation information, behavior, desires, and characteristics.

Once you have opened your LinkedIn account, you have opened a Pandora’s box that cannot be closed, even if you terminate your account:

“We keep your information for as long as your account is active. We may keep certain information even after you close your account if it is necessary to comply with our legal obligations, meet regulatory requirements, resolve disputes, prevent fraud and abuse, or enforce this agreement.”

“LinkedIn’s Customer Service may retain information for as long as is necessary to provide support-related reporting and trend analysis only, but we generally delete or de-personalize closed account data.”

Finally, many other websites allow users to log on by entering their LinkedIn password and username, for the ease of simplicity. That ease comes with a price tag. For LinkedIn:

“We receive information when you use your LinkedIn account to log in to a third-party website or application.”

Is it time for us to log off LinkedIn?

Featured image courtesy of Josh Hallett licensed via Creative Commons.

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Paul Rubell

Paul is an Equity Partner with business law firm Meltzer, Lippe, Goldstein, and Breitstone, LLP. Paul practices in the firm’s Corporate Law Group, and heads its Social Media and Cloud Computing Groups. He is a trusted advisor to business owners and helps entrepreneurs solve the legal, business, tax, and cash flow issues that confront their companies each day. Paul advises technology companies about software licensing, cloud computing, social media, privacy, technology transfer, intellectual property, and cutting-edge legal and technological innovation. For operating companies, he provides day-to-day legal and business advice, contract review, and strategic planning. Paul also renders sophisticated counsel for extraordinary and liquidity transactions.