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Posted by on Aug 12, 2011 in Science & Technology | 7 comments

LinkedIn Joins Facebook In “Personalized” Ad Push; Here’s How To Opt-Out

To some of you, this may be old news. After all, LinkedIn announced the change via a blog post last month. But I learned about it today on GooglePlus.

First, there were announced changes in the LinkedIn privacy policy in June. (Missed those, too.)

Then last month, under the familiar guise of “deliver[ing] ads that are more useful and relevant to you,” LinkedIn opted-you-in to agreeing to let the company use your name and photo in social advertising.

LinkedIn Social Ads

LinkedIn Social Ads : Default Opt-In

How many times do we have to tell the marketing folks (I so want to call them droids, but it’s probably their bosses – senior veeps – who are pushing this stuff) that OPT-OUT IS A BAD BUSINESS PRACTICE.

It doesn’t matter whether the company is forcing us to opt-out from getting emails or, worse, having to opt-out from giving product endorsements.

Opt out is bad business and if companies continue down this track we’ll have no choice but to turn to Congress for remedy. (Yeah, I know, good luck with that given entrenched monied interests.)

The other “new’ business (again, out-out) is something LinkedIn is calling “enhanced” advertising. I really have no idea what this is, and it’s not explained in the roll-out blog post.

On Thursday, “LinkedIn said it will change the program so that ads no longer display peoples’ photographs.

But the screenshot you see (above) is from today, Friday 12 August. So they haven’t yet changed the interface. Or the privacy statement.

Here’s the LinkedIn blog on yesterday’s course change:

LinkedIn Social Ads

LinkedIn Changes Course

How To Find The “Off” Button

(1) LinkedIn Settings

Log in to LinkedIn and go to your settings (the “settings” drop down under your name, upper right). You’ll see “Privacy Controls” on this page but the controls you want are not listed, because the landing page is “Profile.” We want “Account.”

Linked In Account Settings

1. Linked In Account Settings : Landing Page

(2) LinkedIn Account Settings v Profile Settings

Click “Account” in the lower left (it doesn’t look like a button). Now you’ll see more “Privacy Controls” (insert rolling eyes here – horrible UI/UX). The two are “Manage Social Advertising” (that’s permission to use your info) and “Enhanced Advertising” (advertising delivered on site with cookies that can follow you OFF site).

Linked In Settings - Account

2. Linked In Settings - Account

(3) Click “Manage Social Advertising”

This is the “permission to use your personal info.” You probably want to deselect that tick box.

LinkedIn Social Ads

3. LinkedIn Social Ads : Default Approval

(4) Click “Turn on/off enhanced advertising”

Do you want to see enhanced ads while you are on LinkedIn or, more importantly, OFF LinkedIn? In other words, are you OK with cookies following you off-site? If the answer to either is no, de-select the tick box.

LinkedIn Enhanced Ads

3. LinkedIn Enhanced Ads

From LinkedIn’s change in privacy from June (emphasis added)

  • We also clarified that LinkedIn’s enhanced advertising may deliver LinkedIn or third party ads to you on and off LinkedIn
There you go. The fact that LinkedIn has reversed course partially — at least rhetorically — is a good thing. They almost three weeks of grace before someone (I haven’t tried to track down who posted the first alert) sounded the alarm. And, like the anecdotal Paul Revere, the alarm went round the web in a flash.

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  • Allen

    Well it’s the Republican party and their free enterprise, no holds barred, anti-regulation, give business what ever it wants, when ever it wants it, political stand. Regulation against this crap would be entirely easy within practically every country but ours. Shameful really. If business has to conduct itself this way, we simply do not need their proprietorship! Write your Congressman anyway, I am. Fat lot of good though, mine is one wacked out redneck republican. Need his answer on record anyway. Maybe I’ll post what he says.

  • davidpsummers

    So how do you turn this stuff off on Facebook?

    (And, for the record, Democrats haven’t much about this either. Each party is more interested in who can be blamed for the downgrade (when, in fact, it was both of them) than actually addressing something like this.)

  • Dr. J

    Opt-in might be better all the way around, but probably not in the way you hope, Kathy.

    The web essentially forces you to opt in to Adobe’s flash player and PDF reader, to accepting first-party cookies, and much else. Sites that rely on advertising revenue would need to essentially force you to opt in as well. They’d get to write the terms, and they might write ones that are more invasive than they dare in an opt-out system. After all, you’re opting in.

    This might nevertheless be better. It’s sad that newspapers are folding because they can’t support themselves from online ad revenue. A stable, transparent advertising bargain between web consumers and providers, even one further to the benefit of providers, seems preferable to the tug-of-war we have now. Then again, I’m not the type to panic over relevant ads.

  • Hi, Allen — you are correct that government action can make a difference. Reportedly, LinkedIn’s opt-in violated at least one EU country’s laws. This is, however, not a partisan issue (in my observation).

    Hi, Dr J — you can disable Flash popups and ads with Ad Blocker software. The last time I checked, PDFs did not follow you around from site-to-site or share your personal data with Adobe — having a technology become a de facto standard is not the same thing as opting someone in to having their personal name and photo associated with a product! It’s pretty straightforward to get around most news site login requirements (see BugMeNot or simply search for an article on Bing or Google or Yahoo).

  • Hi, David – to turn of Facebook’s social ads:

    (1) Log in to Facebook

    (2) Go to account settings

    (3) Click “Facebook Ads” in the left-hand navigation pane

    (4) Click Edit third party ad settings
    “… Facebook does not share your information with the third party sites hosting the social plugins… If we allow this in the future, show my information to … NO ONE”

    (5) Edit social ads setting
    “Pair my social actions with ads for …. NO ONE”

  • davidpsummers

    Thanks for the info on Facebook settings.

    I’ve always been critical of “opt-out”. In the past I’ve never worried about facebook that much. (I’m on Linkedin, but I never use since I’ve never gotten what it was for.) The main reason I never worried is that I never put any info on facebook that I didn’t want publicly known. (after all, wasn’t the point of putting it there before?). However, I’ve noticed they started pushing using your facebook account to log in to other stuff. I never use that since I don’t know what info that means will suddenly become public.

    So I now worry the facebook is pushing their approach to using other people’s info onto the rest of the web.

    The example you cite here seems to be abandoning even the excuse that the info is “amalgamated”, and thus not personally identifiable, if they are using your photo.

  • Hi, David – most consumers are critical of “opt-out”.

    LinkedIn is primarily for networking in the traditional sense – finding a job, finding people who are looking for your services. There is one case where attaching a photo/name on LI makes sense — when you see a job ad and LI can tell you who in your network is connected to the person who posted the job.

    Yes, FB has become a log-in option for many websites. I don’t use it — I like to use OpenID or Twitter (to prevent having to create yet another login). When you are logged in to Facebook and you go to a website (like the NYT) that is using FB services, you will see which stories your friends have liked, for example. It’s a form of customization and it’s based on the very real/true fact that we value our friends’ opinions. These technologies allow us to see those recommendations without their having to actually do anything.

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