Facebook calls them "sponsored stories" and LinkedIn calls them "social ads." And you've likely seen them: small modules in the margin of your screen that promote a company or product with information on which of your friends or connections "like" or "follow" that brand.
Social advertising isn't anything new on LinkedIn. Back in June, the company announced its foray into a new type of advertising platform that would surface actions from your network, such as recommendations and company follows, and use your name and photo in the ad.
Then in August, after a round of negative feedback from users, LinkedIn published another blog post addressing the feedback, explaining its advertising policies and announcing a few new changes, one of which consisted of removing users' photos from the ads.
Now a chain-letter-type of message is making its rounds through LinkedIn, reigniting the social advertising backlash. The message begins, "Without attracting too much publicity, LinkedIn has updated their privacy conditions. Without any action from your side, LinkedIn is now permitted to use your name and picture in any of the advertisements."
This, of course, isn't entirely true anymore. LinkedIn no longer includes a thumbnail of your picture directly on the ad as it once did; now, you need to click the link that says how many people in your network follow the advertised company in order to see your contacts' photos. The chain-letter message then encourages you to pass the warning along to 50 of your connections.
The bigger problem with these social ads is that LinkedIn automatically opts you in to them. So unless you were privy to its announcements six months ago, you likely haven't noticed that your information is included in its social advertising campaigns.
Fortunately, opting-out is easy. Log into your account and hover over your name in the top-right corner. Select "Settings" from the drop-down menu that appears.
Scroll to the bottom of your Settings page and click the "Account" tab. Under the first heading, "Privacy Controls," choose "Manage Social Advertising." Then, uncheck the box that lets LinkedIn use your name and photo in social advertising.
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