LinkedIn automatically opts in users' names, photos in online ads

LinkedIn has pulled the usual "automatic opt-in" trick, which is making some subscribers mad.

Facebook is currently taking some heat this week as unrest surfaced again over copying phone numbers from users' phones. Now another social network is in the firing line from users over a slightly different new feature.

LinkedIn had added a new function dubbed as "social advertising," in which a user's name and photo has the potential of popping up in third-party advertising anywhere on the professional social network.

Here's a copy of the full message LinkedIn is offering to users:

Sophos' Naked Security blog reports that LinkedIn technically warned users about this beforehand when it updated its privacy policy two months ago with a summary and even a "link at the top of the policy page to show you the changes since last time."

However, it's doubtful that most users ever read the privacy policies word-for-word about anything they sign up for, and LinkedIn didn't make a big announcement on the home page or via email about this either.

Of course, why would it want to? Social networks (especially Facebook) have the habit of just automatically signing users up for features without asking, which might be infuriating, but if you don't like it, you always have the option of canceling your account.

If you are a LinkedIn member and you want to turn this feature off, it's actually not difficult. Just follow the following steps.

  1. Log into LinkedIn
  2. Click on the Settings link under the drop down menu with your name in the top right corner
  3. On the bottom left, click Account
  4. Under Privacy Controls, click "Manage Social Advertising"
  5. Unclick the box and hit Save

UPDATE: Following a flurry of buzz over this topic on the blogosphere, LinkedIn has responded on its official blog about its social advertising policy. As for the third-parties, here's another explanation:

We never share personal information with third party advertisers. That was true prior to the launch of the social ads test, and remains true today. The only information that is used in social ads is information that is already publicly available and viewable by anyone in your network.

Thus, users' names and profile photos.