LinkedIn, the business-focused social network popular in the IT community, has removed advertisements with embedded user profile pictures following privacy complaints from customers.
The ‘social ads’, which were introduced in June, showed the user the names and faces of all their contracts who ‘follow’ a given advertiser on the network. That proved unpopular with a number of users.
"What we’ve learned now, is that … members may not be comfortable with the use of their names and photos associated with those actions used in ads served to their network," LinkedIn’s product development director Ryan Roslansky wrote in an official blog post.
LinkedIn had been criticised for introducing the feature, which resembles similar functions on Facebook, on an "opt-out" basis, rather than asking users whether they wanted to participate.
"Unfortunately this is just the latest example of a social network introducing sensitive new policies without giving users the chance to say first whether they want to opt-in," wrote Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant at UK security company Sophos, yesterday. "Many people won’t even be aware that their image and name could be used in this fashion."
Earlier this year, LinkedIn was sued by a user for allegedly passing personally sensitive information to advertisers, via what are known as “referrer headers”, the data that tells advertisers what page users were looking at when they clicked on their ad. Kevin Low claimed that he "embarrassed and humiliated by the disclosure of his personally identifiable browsing history". LinkedIn denied the claim ‘vigourously’.