Did you just click that link? If you were signed in to LinkedIn, and if the link was to a user profile on the same site LinkedIn, you have just created a revenue generating stream for LinkedIn where they will apparently sell information about your viewing habits that are matched to your user profile to other users of the same site.

As advertising for the LinkedIn Premium for-pay Service called “LinkedInPro” they advertise a feature:

Who’s Viewed Your Profile: Get the full list
Get the complete list of who’s viewed your profile with Profile Stats Pro. You’ll also see how your viewers found you, and learn more about the people interested in you.

This is a feature of their all of their Business, Business Plus, and Executive for-pay services, which range from $24.99-$99.95 per month. The only possible way individual users of the site can know who viewed you—the “full list”—is if LinkedIn is converting its web traffic logs of all logged in users’ clicks explicitly as a means to sell the information to other individuals. LinkedIn never asked permission to show views to other users.

In addition, LinkedIn appears to have violated its own user policy with this new “Pro” feature for sale. Their privacy policy states:

We do not sell, rent, or otherwise provide personally identifiable information to third parties without your consent except where it is necessary to carry out your instructions (to process your payment information, for example) or as described in Section 2 of this Privacy Policy. Also, we may share information with affiliates (like LinkedIn Ireland, Limited) to provide the Services. We also provide you with the means to control whether or not your contact information is viewable to other Users through your profile.

Hey LinkedIn… guess what? Any user on your site, necessarily, is a third party.

That means LinkedIn is both actively tracking everything you click on specifically as a means to be sold as personally identifiable information to other users of the site, while at the same time promising not to do so.

At this point all you can do is deactivate your LinkedIn account (UnLinked™?) since their customer service does not respond to inquiries. What a crock.

UPDATE:

Some people appear to be misunderstand the situation. To be more clear:
From the title: LinkedIn is selling your CLICKS. They are absolutely selling your clicks to third parties. They have unilaterally decided that your browsing history on their site is for sale to any other user on the site.

Many websites do this automatically, but in an anonymizing way: “5,000,000 Youtube views” and the like. The common expectation is that views will be anonymized. What makes this unique is that LinkedIn advertises that they are MATCHING a user’s individual clicks (and presumably the day and time of those clicks) to that user’s online profile on LinkedIn (the “who’s viewed your profile” bit in their advertising) for these third parties without your consent.

This is not publishing your “likes” or your private information. It’s publishing your CLICKS and PAGE VIEWS that are MATCHED to your LinkedIn profile. LinkedIn is publishing your browsing history. On top of that, they are selling it.

Totally uncalled-for by LinkedIn.

 

2 Responses to “LinkedIn is selling your clicks and violating its own Privacy Policy”

  1. Gremlin says:

    This is a misinterpretation – the first-party is linkedin, the second-party is the paying member. The information shared is third-party member’s profiles information being shared with the second-party (the user wanting to know who looked at his profile.)

    So, the third-party (the random user/browsing visitor) can’t see your personally identifiable information unless you let them. You on the other hand get to see who visited your profile.

    Nobody is paying for access to your profile information – and if a paid customer wants to see who looked at their page, and the viewer is another paid customer – and both members refuse to display personal information on their pages then there isn’t any personal information sharing or selling going on anyways.

    Third party means an entity that isn’t a) the user or b) linkedin. Also, the very first section of the same privacy policy you link to clearly states that amongst the information collected is browsing information pertaining to your account and your viewing history of linkedin pages/profiles.

    Stop being a TROLL.

  2. jmil says:

    Hi Gremlin. You clearly didn’t understand the post, I apologize it was not more clear. From the title: LinkedIn is selling your CLICKS. They are absolutely selling your clicks to third parties. They have unilaterally decided that your browsing history on their site is for sale to any other user on the site.

    Many websites do this in an anonymizing way: “5,000,000 Youtube views” or the like. What makes this unique is that they are MATCHING your individual clicks (and presumably the day and time of those clicks) to your online profile for these third parties without your consent.

    This is not publishing your “likes”. It’s publishing your CLICKS and PAGE VIEWS. LinkedIn is publishing your browsing history. On top of that, they are selling it.

    Totally uncalled-for by LinkedIn.

    I have updated the blog post to make these points more clear.

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