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LinkedIn Bucks Social Media Norms with Updated TOS

LinkedIn Bucks Social Media Norms with Updated TOS

On Thursday, October 23, 2014, LinkedIn updated its Terms of Service (TOS), which includes both its Privacy Policy and User Agreement. According to Sarah Harrington, it’s a “members first” company and prides itself on always keeping users in mind when it makes decisions. As a result, LinkedIn cut its standard TOS in half and toned down the legalese to make it more digestible to users and would-be users. That’s the exact opposite of what most companies do in today’s Internet economy.That’s not all it did, either. LinkedIn admitted to previously having “broad rights” to use its users’ content as it saw fit. However, this recent TOS update relinquished those rights back to its users. In other words, you own the content you publish on the social network. Even though it previously had broad rights, it claims to have never exercised them because it didn’t seem like a “members first” thing to do.Below are the TOS highlights that LinkedIn wishes to communicate.  You own your content that you post on our services. You always have, and that hasn’t changed.If you delete anything from our services, our rights to it will end. But we obviously can’t control what others do with content you shared before you delete it. For example, before you delete a presentation, one of your connections may have cut and pasted it to a blog post they’ve authored.We don’t have exclusive rights to your content. It’s yours, so you’re free to repost your content on other services on the terms of your choice – like one of the Creative Commons licenses.We don’t license or sell your content to third-parties (like advertisers, publishers, and websites) to show to anyone else without your express permission. We won’t alter the intent of your content. But we may need to translate it, adjust the formatting, and make other technical changes to show it properly on our services.If LinkedIn desires to use any of its members’ content for marketing or advertising they’ll ask for permission first. Not just on LinkedIn either. This policy extends to SlideShare and Pulse, too.Furthermore, LinkedIn does not share personal information to advertisers without expressed permission. In an attempt to only serve up relevant ads, it uses cookies and other proprietary technology. It believes ads that are professionally relevant to its users are beneficial. However, if you disagree LinkedIn allows you to completely opt out of this kind of enhanced advertising.The above changes represent a stark contrast to many of the other social media networks used today. In fact, LinkedIn should be applauded for executing what most privacy advocates want Facebook and other networks to do. It is certainly one of the first companies to do this, but let’s hope it’s not the last.Image credit: Flickr 

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