The change doesn’t come as a surprise. Over the past year we’ve seen a few privacy-related changes in the online marketing industry. These have been triggered by a number of factors such as user concern fuelled by mass media, scandals like the Facebook/Cambridge Analytica, GDPR coming into force and Google+ closing down after a data leak.
The update to the LinkedIn privacy settings was introduced without drumrolls. Tech Crunch announced it at the end of November after being tipped off by a reader.
What’s changed in the LinkedIn settings
LinkedIn modified its privacy settings to give its users more control over how their data is being used. The change will also reduce the number of unwanted emails.
The new setting can be found under Setting & privacy >> Privacy >> Who can see your email address. You now have the option to allow your connections to download your email address in data exports. To activate, switch the toggle to yes or no and it automatically saves your choice. The setting defaults to “no”.
However, note if you switch the option to “no”, your connections can still see your email on your profile. You can choose to hide this by selecting the first of the four options in the drop-down menu: Only visible to me.
Other LinkedIn privacy settings
In addition to your connections, LinkedIn also makes your information available to authorised third-party apps that your connections use such as email services (Outlook, Yahoo Mail, Apple and Samsung native emails), Cortana, Evernote and social media aggregators.
To manage your profile’s visibility off LinkedIn go to this help page and follow the instructions (or see the image below).
Over time you might have allowed digital tools and services to connect to your LinkedIn profile to perform a certain action such as post a message on your behalf. You can see a list of your connected apps under Settings & privacy >> Account>> Partners and services >> Permitted services. Here you can remove the ones that you don’t need anymore.
LinkedIn allows trusted partners to use its data for policy making and academic research with social and economic purposes. Researchers are able to see some of your profile information, however your privacy will still be protected.
To opt out go to Settings & privacy >> Privacy >> How LinkedIn uses your data >> Social, economic and workplace research. However, even if you opt out, you’ll still be included in LinkedIn’s own product development research and research using anonymised data.
The update has pros and cons for both audiences and marketers.
On the positive side, audiences will receive fewer spam emails. However, they will also see less relevant ads on and off LinkedIn. The platform will continue to show the same number of ads even if users opt out from publicising their email addresses.
On the advertisers’ side, not having user emails available for export will limit the number of potential prospects marketers can reach.
Because the email sharing setting defaults to “no”, it’s very likely that users won’t proactively change it. Thus, bulk exports will see a reduction in the number of emails.
The greatest negative impact will be on influencers, entrepreneurs, recruiters and small businesses who regularly use LinkedIn email lists for advertising both on the platform and on other networks through custom audience lists. Businesses can use exported lists from LinkedIn to build similar audience lists for advertising on the Google Display Network, Facebook or YouTube. In such cases, the effectiveness of remarketing could potentially reduce.