They Learned They Could Get Away With It

Earlier today, I caught site of an interesting blog post thanks to Niki Black.

A Box You Want to Uncheck on LinkedIn

Apparently, LinkedIn has followed in Facebooks footsteps, and automatically enabled a feature that lets them use your information and image in advertisements on the site.  (As well as some other defaults to allow their marketing partners to contact you, etc. )

Go ahead, take a look and fix your settings, then come back……

Anyway, the popular comment that I’ve seen about this is that LinkedIn should have learned from when Facebook has done this and gone a different route.

I think they did learn from Facebook, and what they learned is that they’ll take a bit of a beating in the online world, but it will pass in a couple of weeks. They also learned that 90% of the people who use LinkedIn won’t ever notice that this change has been made, and even those who do and get upset about it, over 90% of them aren’t about to delete their accounts. Not having a LinkedIn account is professional suicide in 2011. So LinkedIn will take a little bad PR, but in the end nothing will really happen to them, and the vast majority of folks will leave their settings unchanged from the default, and LinkedIn will rake in some money from marketers who want to use that.

Meanwhile, over in the Facebook camp, they’ve done this so many times that people are now completely freaked out over things that they haven’t even done. I don’t know about you, but it seems to me that there’s been a rash of people freaking out because Facebook has “published” all the phone numbers stored in their phones. In reality, what Facebook has done is synched your contacts from your phone, with the FB mobile app, the same way it uses your Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo contacts to try and find people you might know on Facebook. In each case, the user has asked them to do this, without really thinking about the fact that Facebook would hang on to that contact data in order to continue to help find people you might know. So, your phone contacts are stored there, but they are not “published” on Facebook, you are the only one who can see them.

Of course, with Facebook’s reputation for setting everything on by default and making you opt out, most people do not even question that Facebook has published their phone numbers to the world at large. Yet, they stay on Facebook, for the same reason that people will stay on LinkedIn. If you want to be connected, you have to be. It’s too much work trying to build a network without these tools. (Twitter and Google Plus, eventually, will fall in this same category.)

So, until someone comes along and builds a better mousetrap, you’ll be at the mercy of these companies and their attempts at making a profit off of their membership. Even when someone does, unless you want to build your own, you’ll be at their mercy too. (see Google Plus…)

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