Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Who Owns Your LinkedIn Profile? It Might Not Be You

By Dave Johnson


There’s a new threat to personal privacy online. In the name of corporate compliance, tools are emerging that let companies monitor and manage social networking posts, including user account profiles. Including LinkedIn.

Last week, Distributed Marketing published a report that might worry anyone who uses LinkedIn as a way to network and job search within their industry. Specifically, they reported on a press release from compliance vendor Actiance, which announced social media monitoring software. Specifically, Actiance had this to say:
“Actiance today announced new capabilities within its Socialite solution to proactively allow organizations to approve content and changes made to employee LinkedIn profiles.”
The press release goes on to say that this capability is targeted at companies with compliance responsibilities, such as those in the financial industry, “which requires all static content to be pre-approved prior to publishing.”

What is disruptive about this announcement, of course, is that user account profiles — and LinkedIn in particular — feel different than simply tweeting or posting news to Facebook. LinkedIn is associated with individuals, not companies, and tends to follow people from job to job. It’s that very continuity that gives LinkedIn its power to help people manage their careers and stand apart from any particular company or role within a company. More importantly, perhaps, your profile is personal — like a biography — and giving a company the ability to intercept changes feels like a Draconian invasion of privacy.

Distributed Marketing collected a wide range of comments from industry experts, and their feedback is interesting and insightful. Here are a few to ponder — read the entire post for more.

Bill Tyson, CEO, Strategic Marketing Plus, LLC:
Similar to information security, it is now highly probable that clients, investors and insurers will one day insist that you not only adopt stricter policing and enforcement procedures but you prove it. This tool helps a compliance officer do that - and I am all for that type of loss control and mitigation of business risks.

From a practical standpoint, most compliance departments (except in rare cases like military and defense) would not approve of this level of intrusion into an employee’s private life activities (i.e. job searching). I would also imagine they would not want to ever be seen as hindering someone’s ability to get a job or to advance their career.

Donna Ballman, author, blogger, and employment attorney:
There’s some issue about who owns your social media once you leave your employment. If you were hired to be the company blogger, to create a Twitter account and tweet for the company, to develop the corporate media presence, the work you did while you were employed and those social media accounts you got for the company likely belong to the employer. An exception is probably LinkedIn. They don’t allow profiles for companies - only individuals. Your LinkedIn profile is probably yours, even if the company told you to create it while on the job. Just don’t run afoul of your nonsolicitation or noncompete agreement.

Read the complete bnet article for more information

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