LinkedIn may be using your photo for adverts

Following a recent – and very quiet – update to its privacy policy, LinkedIn has started using members’ names and photos in advertisements by default.

A new paragraph added to the company’s 6,400 word privacy policy explains.

“LinkedIn may sometimes pair an advertiser’s message with social content from LinkedIn’s network in order to make the ad more relevant.  When LinkedIn members recommend people and services, follow companies, or take other actions, their name/photo may show up in related ads shown to you,” it reads. 

“Conversely, when you take these actions on LinkedIn, your name/photo may show up in related ads shown to LinkedIn members.”

In other words, LinkedIn will mine your usage habits to establish what products and services you’re interested in, and then use your name and photo to endorse them when they’re advertised to other users.

“We’re used to this from Facebook, and it’s disappointing to see LinkedIn follow in their footsteps,” says Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant at Sophos. 

“This feature certainly wasn’t available when many of LinkedIn’s users first signed up for the service, and as the majority of people don’t tend to check privacy settings after they’ve set up an account, many people won’t even be aware that their image and name could be used in this fashion.”

Robin Wilton, research director at Gartner, agrees.

“One of the principal issues, from a privacy perspective, is that this change has been introduced by default and without notifying users either that it is happening, or how they can opt out if they don’t fancy it,” he says.

“Neither is it clear to users who will see them in these advertisements, or whether their account privacy settings have any effect on the size of that audience. It’s not even clear, from the ‘catch-all’ description above, just which of a user’s activities might trigger the advertising function.”

Users can turn off the feature by visiting their account settings, and disabling ‘Manage Social Advertising’.