What is Social Media?

Entries in Privacy (5)


LinkedIn pulls a "Facebook" - How to get LinkedOut!

Did LinkedIn just pull a "Facebook" privacy move?

LinkedIn has recently changed user privacy settings, by default, to give it permision to include photos, posts and related activities of LinkedIn Users together with third party paid advertising. Thus making the user an implied endorser of a company, product or service, without his/her explicit consent.

The actual text reads as follows: 

This change was made to users privacy settings without any public notification.

In an age of transparency and the need to trust the owners of social media platforms, this was a ham-fisted way of gaining permission to use (abuse) LinkedIn Users' images and implied affiliations in order to shift more advertising.

There are plenty of people that would love to have the exposure of being included in paid advertising that is served up to the LinkedIn community. LinkedIn did not need to try and "sneak" this new permission into their relationship with the users that pay the freight and create the demand.

When will the owners of social media platforms learn to trust the users as much as they expect the users to trust them?


Since this was posted, LinkedIn reacted to the negative feedback it received from its users and issued an apology and a change to how the ads display. However, all users are still opted-in! 

It is good to see that LinkedIn responds quickly to its users, however, the real right thing to do in this case is auto-opt out all users and ask those that want to participate in the program to opt-in.

There are more than enough people that want to share their interests that LinkedIn does not need to force the users into the option. It is this kind of forced sharing that prompts the user community to look for alternatives like Google+.

By failing to opt-out all members, they have missed an opportunity to do the really right thing and regain the trust of their users.

Read the official LinkedIn response here.


How to Unsubscribe from LinkedIn Social Advertising

If you want to know how to unsubscribe, the following steps describe the process:

  1. Click on your name at the upper right hand side of the LinkedIn home page when you are logged in. then Click on "Settings".
  2. On the Settings page, click on "Account"
  3. Click on "Manage Social Advertising to get to the page where you can choose to opt-out.


Once on the page, simply un-check the box and save. 


Social Media and HR - What are the legal risks?

The explosion in the use of social media by employees and customers has dramatically increased the level of exposure for organizations to reputational risk, IP leakage, copyright infringements, anti-trust issues and more. 

Social media has created a minefield, especially in the area of HR management, with the widespread use of online tools to find, vet, recruit and manage staff.

Now that every employee has a virtual megaphone to the world to share confidential information, intentionally or through poor judgement, organizations need to understand what the risks are and how to defend against them through education, sound social media strategy and appropriate policies.

Finding a legal expert that understands these issues is not easy.

Fortunately for Scripps Networks Interactive Inc., Cynthia Gibson (Vice President Legal) is an expert that understands HR and the evolving area of social media related legal risk management. 

Recently, Mrs. Gibson delivered an incredibly informative 90 miunute webinar that was packed full of practical information, including:

Which laws apply?

Not only did Ms. Gibson review the applicable laws but she also cited recent cases and examples.

• The Electronic Communications Privacy Act

• The Stored Communications Act

• Computer Fraud and Abuse Act

• National Labor Relations Act

• Privacy Rights

• Free Speech Rights

• Federal Trade Commission

• Whistleblowers

• Lawful Non-Work Activity Statutes

• Reporter’s Privilege

• Limitations

What are the Challenges for HR & Management:

Social media is a powerful new tool for both recruitment and management but it comes with a host of challenges for managers.

• Background checks

• Discrimination

• Harassment and Retaliation

• Disloyalty

• Insubordination

• Employee monitoring

What are the Risks to your Organization

Senior management needs to always have an eye on risk management. Many of the legal risks associated with social media are actually not new. What is new is that now every employee in your organization has the capacity to do far greater damage must faster and wider than ever before, requiring a new degree of diligence.

• Litigation

• Disclosure of confidential information and trade secrets

• Defamation

• Copyright violations

• Unfair competition

• Competitive intelligence

• Negligent hiring and retention

• Damage to reputation

Social Media Opportunities and Best Practices

Not everything to do with social media represents risk and downside, there is of course, great opportunity to grow your organization, improve communications, gain new customers, find outstanding employees and earn new revenue.

The goal is to be able to leverage all of the positive opportunities that social media promises without incurring undo risk. Ms. Gibson does an excellent job of explaining the risks that exists, citing examples of recent cases, and providing some straight forward advice for managers on how to leverage social media wisely. 


NOTE: Access to the recorded webinar session is still available. For just $149.00 you get:

•Instant Access to the recorded Webinar for 6 months!  

•Copy of the presentation slides

• Free bonus materials: “Online Community Management Guidelines and Checklist”!



Nothing to Hide

In his most recent book, "Nothing to Hide", Daniel Solove (John Marshall Harlan Research Professor of Law at George Washington University) makes compelling arguments about the false balance and trade-offs being made between privacy and security.

Although Prof. Solove is focused on the issue of 'privacy vs. national security', many of the same points made could apply to the tradeoff of 'privacy vs. commerce' as relates to social networking platforms and information aggregation by companies.

For example, he talks about the types of potential harm that can be done when massive amounts of information are collected, whether willingly (ie. in Facebook, LinkedIn, Foursquare, or any other social media related application), or surreptitously. He describes four categories of risk:

Aggregation:  When small bits of information are combined to paint a detailed picture or profile of an individual, perhaps well beyond what that person would knowingly allow to be compiled about themselves.

Exclusion: Being prevented from knowing what information is being collected and/or how it is being used. (Who really reads the "Terms of Use"? Who knows how extensively your information is being shared with 3rd parties?)

Secondary Use: The use of information that is collected for one purpose that is then used for a different purpose without the consent of the data's subject. (People join social networks to share information and connect, no one really joins a social network to become a highly targeted marketing prospect or to have their data repackaged and sold).

Distortion: When information that is gathered is used to interpret a behavior or create a profile of a person that is incorrect or misleading. Especially when the data subject is unable to change how their profile is being used, interpreted or communicated.

Although Mr. Solove was pointing out the real and potential dangers of misuse of information by the government, the same principles and dangers apply when data is misused by corporations. Especially now when individuals are willingly giving up hordes of information about themselves without really understanding how that information is being used or even by whom it is being collected, shared, sold or manipulated.

Mr. Solove argues that the entire legal concept of privacy and laws designed to protect privacy need a rewrite.

I couldn't agree more at a time when social media platforms are pressed to turn a profit and this pressure pushes them often in the direction of excessively or unethically exploiting the information they have collected from the members in their communities.

To read more about "Nothing to Hide" visit Prof. Solove's blog "Concurring Opinions".


Is data protection in the EU about to get even tougher?

If your organization holds data for European Union citizens or does business in the EU, then you need to know about current and potential EU legislation for the holding and use of personal data.

The EU already has one of the strongest frameworks for protecting citizen privacy and is contemplating changes to make the law stricter especially for online properties like LinkedIn, Facebook, Google, etc.

The following links are to sources of information about current legislation and to comments from Viviane Reding, EU Justice Commissioner, about making protections even stronger. (note: copy and paste links into a browser window).

Bloomberg article



EU Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding's official information and webpage



EU Data Protection: links to description of the laws, enforcing agencies and related items



EU Data Protection Article 29 Task Force links and resources



Managing an Association's Social Media Risks and Coverage Exposures 

The American Society of Association Executives (ASAE) recently hosted a webinar on Managing an Association’s Social Media Risks and Coverage Exposures.

Together with Jared Anderson from Axis Pro, we talked about the different categories of risk that organizations are exposed to when using social media.

This included: 

Employment – How you use social media to identify, qualify, recruit, retain and even dismiss employees is one of the most delicate areas from a risk perspective.

Privacy – Who owns a social media profile when it is used for work? Are social media communications private if company equipment is used?

Copyright  –  In an era of “copy & click” it is all too easy for staff, volunteers  or members to violate copyrighted materials or have your copyrights breached.

Intellectual Property – Who owns materials that are created by your collective social media communities? How do you defend your ownership rights?

Anti-trust  - Just like in the offline world, collusion, price fixing or anti-competitive behavior is a potential liability for your organization.

Defamation – For some reason, people can be more aggressive when communicating online than they would be in person. This can lead to mistakes being made that have a liability for the organization.

Marketing – If you are operating in a regulated or restricted  area of commerce (health care for example), you need to be aware of the limitations on certain types of marketing and sales activities. 

Trade secrets – Because of the ease of copying confidential information that is not only widely disseminated, but it becomes almost impossible to retrieve once it is out.

The bottom line is that your D&O, Media or E&O insurance policy is most likely not up to date and therefore may not be giving you the coverage that you need. It is also impossible to cover every possible liability and therefore a social media plan that includes solid policies and procedures is needed to minimize uncovered exposure.

Suggestion? Make sure you have a professionally developed social media strategy and talk with your insurance agent or broker to understand which social media related risks, if any, you currently have covered.

Want to listen to the recorded webinar session?

Click: Managing an Association’s Social Media Risks and Coverage Exposures.