by Freddy J. Nager, Founder of Atomic Tango + Usually a LinkedIn Advocate…
I just found out that an old friend of mine got fired. No, he didn’t tell me — I haven’t spoken to him in years. Rather, LinkedIn told me.
I’m connected with my friend on LinkedIn, and one day the social network’s wall featured a news story about him. The story had appeared in some niche trade publication, but hey, that was my friend in the news. So I gave it a read and learned about his company’s problems and, briefly, how he had been removed as CEO for falling short of expectations.
And I’m thinking, whoa, that’s not exactly flattering.
And I’m fairly certain that’s not exactly something he’d want publicized to his professional network. Indeed, neither he nor any of his connections had shared it on LinkedIn. Rather, LinkedIn itself disseminated the story automatically as a Mentioned in the News Feature. Kind of like a Google News Alert for all your friends and business associates to see without your knowledge.
You can see how this could be a problem.
LinkedIn did it to me, too. Fortunately, in my case it was innocuous and even beneficial. I had just published a post here at Atomic Tango with my byline, so LinkedIn automatically shared it with my entire network as Freddy being in the news. As you can imagine, I know how to share my own blog posts, which I do at select times with select wording. Why LinkedIn considers this automatic news broadcasting feature useful, leave alone desirable, baffles me.
Now some of you may be thinking, “What’s the big deal? If it’s in the news anyway, it’s not exactly ‘private.’ I also never get into trouble, and since I’m too busy to manage my brand on social media, this could be useful — like having a free publicity bot at my service!”
Sure, that’s until you fire some employee for showing up drunk at work, and he sues you for discriminating against his “disability” and slamming you in the process. Just what you need your professional connections to know, you discriminator, you.
Or maybe you just have a common name, and some Neanderthal who shares your name does something unspeakably heinous, and without warning the story gets shared to your connections as YOU “Mentioned In The News.”
Now, before you panic and delete your LinkedIn profile, remember that LinkedIn can have real financial value for job hunters, entrepreneurs, and businesses. At the same time, LinkedIn was designed by drunk monkeys, and they don’t always get everything right (don’t get me started about the site’s web design issues). They also frequently add and delete features, so I suspect Mentioned in the News will disappear soon.
In the meantime, I strongly recommend that you protect your privacy by doing the following:
- Go to your Account & Settings page.
- About halfway down, click “Turn on/off your news mention broadcasts.”
- Unclick the box that says “Yes! Let them know” (which should have been opt-in, not opt-out).
Done. Now you can go ahead and get arrested for smoking pot while running with scissors in a no trespassing zone during a terrorism alert at a federal wildlife refuge, and no one will ever know.
At least not on LinkedIn. Now as for Facebook…