In this episode, Dylan Curran takes us through the nitty-gritty of LinkedIn’s terms & conditions.
LinkedIn’s mission is to “Connect the world’s professionals to make them more productive and successful.” With 2 major privacy breaches in the past 6 years, we might consider this to be a huge red flag for the safety of our private data on this platform going forward.
DATA WE COLLECT
Although not unique, LinkedIn collects a standard suite of your data.
“name, email address and/or mobile number, and a password. If you register for a premium Service, you will need to provide payment (e.g., credit card) and billing information.”
The following is an important, but deceptive statement.
“ It’s your choice whether to include sensitive information on your profile and to make that sensitive information public. We do not require Members to include sensitive data (e.g., race, ethnicity, political opinions, religious or philosophical beliefs, trade union membership, physical or mental health, sexual orientation or criminal record) in their LinkedIn profile. If you choose to post any such data, it is visible to others like the rest of the profile information you provide. on your profile and to make that sensitive information public. Please do not post or add personal data to your profile that you would not want to be publicly available.”
Yes, we have chosen to use the LinkedIn platform. But should we choose not to share the data LinkedIn is requesting, then the platform is almost completely useless to us.
“If you sync your contacts or calendars with our Services, we will collect your address book and calendar meeting information to keep growing your network by suggesting connections for you and others, and by providing information about them, e.g. times, places, attendees and contacts.
Dylan advises to never sync your contact book or calendar. “Once that incredibly sensitive and useful information is synced, there is no way for you to get it back. Syncing your calendar doesn’t just mean you sync future events, it also means you sync all of your past events and meetings as well.”
DATA FROM OTHERS
This next section deals with how LinkedIn crawls through shared content on the web and links it back to your profile.
“You and others may post content that includes information about you (as part of articles, posts, comments, videos) on our Services. Unless you opt-out, we collect public information about you, such as professional-related news and accomplishments (e.g., patents granted, professional recognition, conference speakers, projects, etc.)”
While this may be a crucial aspect of the LinkedIn platform, the worrying part is that they will automatically collect this information unless you opt-out. Opt-out policies should always be concerning to all of us using these platforms. “If you don’t like the idea of LinkedIn connecting potentially negative comments and news to your profile, especially as you have no recourse to say whether it’s true or false before they relate it to your profile, then make sure to go into the LinkedIn privacy settings and opt out.” Dylan cautions.
“We receive personal data (including contact information) about you when others import or sync their contacts or calendar with our Services, associate their contacts with Member profiles, or send messages using our Services (including invites or connection requests). If you or others opt-in to sync email accounts with our Services, we will also collect “email header” information that we can associate with Member profiles.”
LinkedIn lets you register a profile for free. They make their money by selling your information heavy data to recruiters and employers. This is not news-worthy, but it is sometimes helpful to remind ourselves this is their ultimate purpose.
We are then taken through additional red flags concerning your activities on separate websites.
“We receive personal data about you when you use the services of our customers and partners, such as employers, prospective employers and applicant tracking systems providing us job application data.”
Dylan cautions “it’s advisable that you take great care with the information you put on LinkedIn and find a balance between sensitive personal data and information required for employment.”
In the final section of Curran’s review we look at the “wide umbrella” LinkedIn casts. “It’s important to note that Microsoft owns LinkedIn. So data can be collected about you and spread through any services they provide eg: Outlook, Microsoft Office and, even Skype.” He also makes us think hard about sharing on this platform when we unknowingly allow them to access reams of our personal data “Even information that you can’t possibly consent to on a case by case basis.”
Directly from their service use section we see several of the data points they are collecting:
- Visits and use of services;
- Device and location;
- Information from your employer or school;
- Data when you visit sites that use LinkedIn plugins.
“I would always be careful operating on any Microsoft owned services, just because information is shared across dozens of platforms without me even realizing it,” Curran states.
“By its very nature, LinkedIn seeks to dismantle privacy with respect to personal and professional information to optimize the service for potential recruiters. They have no problem collecting any data they can get their hands on if it relates to you.” Curran sums up. “Because of this, I give them a 1 out of 5.”
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