Roland Turner

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LinkedIn activity broadcasts, a "Privacy" setting that you may wish to revise

LinkedIn profiles are pretty static for most people most of the time and this denies LinkedIn much of the potential newsfeed content that, say, Facebook has. It is therefore understandable that LinkedIn wants to make the most of what little it has, however it would appear that they've overstepped in their handling of newly added positions, to the point where they're engaging in misrepresentation. Fortunately there is a "Privacy" setting to turn this misfeature off.

I've been advising and mentoring very-early stage startups at JFDI for more than a year. There was never a formal recruitment or hiring process, it happened somewhat organically in many small steps. I decided recently that this had become a sufficiently established part of what I'm doing that it's worth reflecting in my LinkedIn profile, so I added a new "position" describing it. I specified a start date of March last year and did not delete either of the two existing positions (Labs Director at TrustSphere and Founding Member at HackerspaceSG). LinkedIn helpfully put the following in front of many of my LinkedIn contacts:

Note that the information presented isn't actually false, but someone who didn't know the background might reasonably assume that this was an announcement that I'd changed jobs, where "someone" might include:

Needless to say, this was not an intended side-effect.

Note that this is not a privacy problem per se - the information that I'm mentoring and advising startups at JFDI is not only not private, it's something that I intend to be public - but about the repackaging of information in a way that's optimised for fostering user engagement, rather than for accuracy.

To any LinkedIn folks who are reading, I'd suggest the following heuristics before announcing that someone has a "new job", regardless of their privacy settings:

For everyone else, there is currently a "Privacy" setting to turn this misfeature off:

The helpful note which appears under the checkbox appears inadequate:

Note: You may want to turn this option off if you're looking for a job and don't want your present employer to see that you're updating your profile.

Given that LinkedIn is repackaging information about profile changes in ways that may cause confusion, it would appear that this should probably be turned off even if you're not looking for a job.

(Thanks Anoshia for the screenshot.)