LinkedIn Changes Social Ads in Response to Gripes

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LinkedIn fired back today after a few days of heavy criticism for its new "social ads" that use information from users' profiles in the ads. LinkedIn Director of Product Management Ryan Roslansky posted a blog entry to clarify issues that had arisen over the newly launched social ads.

Roslansky stressed that the company does not share personal information with third-party advertisers and that the company has instituted a way to opt out of the social ads in users' privacy controls.

linkedin ads privacy
Linkedin's original "social ads"
The key point of the post, however, was that in this privacy controversy, unlike the recent Facebook dust-up over facial recognition, LinkedIn actually had informed users of the changes beforehand. Roslansky stressed that the company had not only informed users of the ad changes back in June, it had also provided a way to opt out of the new social ads before they even launched.

[Read: LinkedIn Privacy: What You Need to Know]

In addition to the privacy policy announcement in June, the company also says the ability to opt out of the service was stressed again when social ads were launched and were made clear in a banner ad on the site. Many critics were already aware of these steps, however and felt it wasn't enough.

[Read: LinkedIn Makes Marketing Shills of Its Members by Default]

linkedin ads privacy
LinkedIn's revised "social ads"
Because of the negative feedback from privacy advocates and users alike, LinkedIn is also backing off from some of the more aggressive features of social ads. Roslanksy announced a new look for the companies social ads, which removes the images of specific LinkedIn contacts and replaces them with a simple message that tells you how many people in your network have a connection to the product or service in question.

While some critics are probably comforted by the company's clarification, it's probably this step back in response to user feedback that will help LinkedIn win back its users' trust.

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