Hey, LinkedIn! Can We Have Some More Privacy Settings, Please?


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Everyone who knows me knows that I am one of the biggest evangelists for LinkedIn. While others turn to Twitter and Facebook, I keep reminding businesses that LinkedIn should be your hub for B2B social media marketing. And while the world is going crazy about Branchout, the Facebook application for professional networking, I find immense value in new tools such as LinkedIn Signal. But as a trusted networking platform for professionals, I find that LI is falling behind its social media counterparts in one important area: Privacy Settings. Here are 3 specific scenarios in which I believe it is in everyone’s best interest if LinkedIn either gives the average user more privacy settings or places restrictions to prevent those in creating fake profiles falsely representing us.

I’m not the only one who thinks this way. It was this message from someone I met on LinkedIn who prompted me to write this blog post with these words:

I want Linkedin to have levels of security – just like on Facebook – I want to know who can access what info. Right now – basically my network and info is wide open – there are some who I wish to um… FILTER! FILTER is the word!

1) Why Make It So Difficult to Disconnect from Someone?

In Facebook and Twitter, we sometimes find the need to stop being friends or unfollow someone. We can do this easily by going to their profile and doing so. Why is it so difficult, then, to remove a LinkedIn connection? I realize that the intent of the professional networking platform was to only invite and connect with trusted professionals. But even from that perspective, what happens if one of your connections has embraced the LinkedIn and Twitter integration, flooding your Network Updates with meaningless hashtags and the dreaded Foursquare tweets, informing us that they just checked in to the local supermarket so that they can get the coveted “Mayor” status? Can’t we at least easily disconnect, or potentially block their Status Updates, from those that use LinkedIn radically different than most professionals do? And, please don’t make us go through all of our connections via the current method: Allow us to disconnect from someone, or at least block their status updates from appearing in our Network Updates, right there from their profile.

2) Give Me Privacy Settings to Help Me Block Stalkers

My friend put it this way:

I have a stalker who looks at my profile daily to see what I’m working on and he has said he will contact my clients directly and so forth… I wish I could block him from even seeing my profile!

I can easily block people in Facebook or Twitter. The question is, why can’t I protect my profile from certain people on LinkedIn?

3) It’s Too Easy to Create a Fake LinkedIn Profile

Once again, in the words of my friend:

Apparently this [Company Name] exec fired a Director level person in [Foreign County] = who put up a fake profile on both this exec and the CEO – long story short I finally was able to get someone to remove this!

There are a lot of people to come to me saying that they didn’t realize they had created a profile and ask how to merge two LinkedIn profiles into one. I am now beginning to think that many of the fake LinkedIn profiles that exist may be malicious attempts at identity theft like the above story. In order to create a Company Profile on LI, I need to have an email address with the domain of my company. Why can’t LinkedIn do this at least for professionals that are employed? It could be one way to start weeding out some of those fake profiles. At the least an IP Address sniffer should tell you whether that person really lives in the city that they say they do. I’m sure the smart folks in Mountain View can think of a lot more creative ways of flushing out fake profiles than I can.

The intent of this blog post is by no means a criticism of LinkedIn. I only hope to bring to their attention, in case they needed to be reminded, the importance of these privacy setting issues. And if you feel that these privacy setting issues are important to you as well, please help spread the word as well as post in the comments what privacy requests that you might have for the professional networking website as well. Thank you.

Republished with author's permission from original post.


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