Last fall, LinkedIn made a significant change to its privacy policies that some users noticed more than others. It effectively stopped the ability of members collecting, downloading and exporting the names and email addresses of other members and then reaching out to them for marketing purposes.

This still can be done to a certain degree but now each user has to consent to their information being used in this way, and the default setting is “no thanks.”

Those who follow online privacy trends may be surprised that LinkedIn still allowed this type of data gathering, especially since many major social networks have taken significant steps in the last year to upgrade their policies and allow more opportunities to customize privacy settings.

LinkedIn doesn’t allow advertisers to scrape member pages for marketing purposes, but it did make it possible for individual users such as CEOs, marketing leaders or other influencers to reach out to other users who may be receptive to their messages even if they don’t have shared contacts or existing relationships. Then they were able to take these lists and put them into other marketing platforms like LinkedIn Ads or Facebook ads.   

Now, users need to consent to have their email harvested and possibly receive ads targeted to them. If they are OK with this they’ll have to manually indicate and adjust this in their privacy settings.

LinkedIn took this step in order to reduce the amount of unwanted email that members receive and make them better enjoy their experience, rather than feel that it’s becoming too commercial or wonder why they see so many ads or spam newsletters.

It also wanted to make sure that users are aware that they can control how much or how little communication they can receive so they’ll have a better experience all around.

If you are a LinkedIn advertiser and do want to harvest emails to let users know about interesting products or services, you can still do so – there are just different rules to follow than there used to be.

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