quitting linkedin in heather bussing on hr examiner april 17 2014

“I have read most social media terms of service and this is the most draconian indemnity clause I have seen.”

I deleted my Linkedin Account last week. It’s not because I hate Linkedin. They provide a very useful resource for recruiters and job candidates, and act as a professional directory. There’s nothing wrong with that.

I killed the account because I don’t agree to their Terms of Service, and I don’t need Linkedin enough to put up with it. I have the luxury of not being on Linkedin because I work for myself and I’m easy to find if someone wants to contact me. (I rarely responded to Inmail anyway.)

Here are the Terms of Service in Linkedin’s User Agreement that I don’t agree to:

Linkedin’s Unlimited License to Sell My Information to Anyone: Section 2.2 of the user agreement grants Linked an unlimited license to do whatever it wants with the information you post on Linkedin, including the right “to use and commercialize, in any way now known or in the future discovered . . . without any further consent, notice and/or compensation.

Linkedin’s Right to Control Who Sees My Information: Section 2.2 also gives Linkedin the right to control other users’ “access and share rights to your content and information.

Competitors Aren’t Eligible to Join Linkedin: Section 2.3 says that you are not eligible to join or use Linkedin if you are a “competitor of Linkedin” or if you are “using the Services for reasons that are in competition to Linkedin.”  Linkedin is the one who gets to decide who is in competition. And Linkedin can pretty much decide that anyone who is not paying them is a competitor.  This provision is probably illegal in California under Business and Professions Code section 16600 which says “every contract by which anyone is restrained from engaging in a lawful profession, trade, or business of any kind is to that extent void.” Linkedin can charge people or be free to everyone, but it can’t be free to everyone except the people it thinks might compete with it.

Linkedin Puts All Liability on Me: Section 2.4 explains that you own your content, but Linkedin owns your Profile, which basically means that Linkedin owns the presentation of your information on their website. This is fine and legal once you can wrap your brain around the idea.

Then it says: between you and others, your account belongs to you. What this means is: Linkedin claims your account is theirs until there is any problem, and then it’s all on you. If someone hacks into your account and creates havoc, it’s not Linkedin’s problem and the burden is completely yours to show you didn’t cause the problem and it wasn’t your fault. Even if you do that, it just means Linkedin might give you your account back.

And even if it wasn’t your fault, or there was a problem with your account, you are still on the hook for having to deal with it and having to pay for it, including Linkedin’s attorneys’ fees. Section 2.5 says you agree to indemnify them and hold them  harmless and pay all the legal expenses and attorneys fees if Linkedin gets sued, gets involved in an investigation, or has any other problem with your account.

I have read most social media terms of service and this is the most draconian indemnity clause I have seen. Linkedin is effectively taking all of the rights and unloading all of the liabilities on its users.

LInkedin’s Don’ts: Section 10.2 gives a laundry list of “Don’ts” that is so broad and so encompassing, it basically gives Linkedin the right to shut down your account for almost anything.

  • You cannot post any inaccurate information,
  • You cannot invite people you don’t know to connect,
  • You cannot use a content field to post information that doesn’t belong in that field– i.e. publish your real contact information anywhere on Linkedin,
  • You cannot “duplicate, transmit, distribute, or display” any information found on Linkedin except your own content,
  • You cannot use any information you see on Linkedin to provide any service that competes with Linkedin and Linkedin gets to decide what “competes” means.

I realize Linkedin is so essential for many employers, recruiters, and users that they can’t afford to stop using Linkedin.

I understand. I don’t agree with Facebook’s terms of service either, but I continue to use Facebook because I get something out of it that makes taking the risk and waiving my rights almost tolerable, if I don’t think about it too much. So I hold my nose and “Like.”

Figure out what works for you. But do read the terms of service and make an informed choice.

Here are some of my other articles on Social Media Terms of Service

Facebook Terms of Service Translated
Who Owns Data 7: Linkedin or Fencedin
You’re Violating Copyright on Pinterest
Social Media at Work – Who Owns the Content?

Here’s how to delete your Linkedin account:

Go to your home page.
Find the little picture of you in the upper right hand corner and move your cursor over it.
A drop-down menu should appear
Click on Privacy and Settings
You may be asked to sign into your account again.
Click the Account side tab near the left bottom corner of the page next to the shield icon
Click Helpful Links
Click Close your account.

  • http://www.winningimpression.com/ Katrina Collier

    You cannot “duplicate, transmit, distribute, or display” any information found on LinkedIn except your own content,
    So effectively, you can’t take something found in Pulse and reshare it as a status? Helpful! 😀 Great post Heather and good for you!

  • http://about.me/ddavis/ Dustin Davis

    I love that this article as 154 LinkedIn shares so far. Irony.

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  • http://blogs.richardson.com/ Mike Kunkle

    Heather, while I admit that this puzzles me a bit, I admire your authenticity in acting in accordance with your beliefs. I was stunned when I saw Chris Brogan opt-out, awhile back, but again, he has a different circumstance than most, which you state you do, as well.

    I also appreciate that you recognize that many can’t as easily make this decision. While it still depends (to a degree) on industry/vertical, if you’re in sales, for example, this would possibly be the worst advice you could offer someone.

    I’ve seen other social sites, particularly Facebook, respond to user pressure. I wonder if LinkedIn, might, as well? At least for me, LinkedIn is a phenomenal tool that has helped my career in a myriad of ways. I’d rather fight than switch.

    In any case, thanks for the close, public review of their TOS and for calling attention to their policies.

  • http://www.hrexaminer.com/ Heather Bussing

    Thanks for your thoughtful comment Mike. I do understand that Linkedin is a necessary tool for many people. So I am not advising people to opt-out unless it really makes sense for them.

    What I want is for people to understand what it is in User Agreements. I am also completely in favor of using public pressure to get more user friendly terms, and for more transparency on what data is collected and how it is used.

    Linkedin has a unique problem that it does not and cannot ever own or control facts and information about people and their work histories. So they need users to stay inside Linkedin for all their activity so they can collect user data. They also want to build the largest database about people and their networks so they can sell access. But there are lots of ways to find people on the internet these days.

    I would like to see Linkedin focus on its users instead of defending it’s territory.

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  • http://blogs.richardson.com/ Mike Kunkle

    Can’t disagree with a word in that reply, Heather. Thanks again for pointing this out so clearly. Let’s hope it inspires others to lobby. I’d ask to connect with you now on LinkedIn, but… 😉

  • http://www.hrexaminer.com/ Heather Bussing

    I followed you on Twitter. :> And you can always find me here.

  • Susan Avello

    Useful info for sure. I also adore you for adding “Here’s How To Delete Your Linkedin Account”

  • http://HRTechAdvisor.com Ward Christman

    Katrina – I think they mean you are not allowed to “duplicate” their content on other sites, to keep people from “stealing” their content.

  • http://HRTechAdvisor.com Ward Christman

    Heather – nice expose! I’m about to publish a blog on LInkedin’s CRM (or lack thereof) and how it relates to their recruiting tools and the impact of “open networkers”, and during my interviews I’m surprised that most people don’t know they are forbidden to connect to people they don’t know! I’m glad you pointed that out, it’s buried but crystal clear.

  • Debbie

    What I don’t get is how anyone has the right to tell you who you should be able to “invite” or get to know. Isn’t that what these social media sites are all about? Trying to expand your professional network must mean, in essence, you are trying to connect with people you may not know. It seems a bit ridiculous to me.

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  • http://www.hrexaminer.com/ Heather Bussing

    It’s also important to understand that these rules apply whether you are using the public free version or are paying for one of the versions with greater access (full profiles and fewer/no limits on page views).

  • http://blogs.richardson.com/ Mike Kunkle

    Now there’s something else I agree with, that does bother me about LinkedIn (although, I admittedly am largely a fan and a power user). LinkedIn’s policies around connecting, are very confusing and contradictory.

    They will penalize you if too many people say they don’t know you, but will allow you to say you’ll follow their TOS and get reinstated.

    Despite their limited connection policy, you can send an invite to anyone in a group you belong to. If enough of those people say they don’t know you, however… still penalized.

    They basically forbid open networking, yet obviously tolerate a large number of open networkers who violate TOS in multiple ways — not just soliciting invites openly, and advertising their LION status, but also putting more than their name in the name field, openly listing emails and phones in places other than allowed, etc.

    I’m not really an open networker, but I am very liberal with connecting with people in my field with similar professional interests. My biggest problem with their “only connect with those you know well” policy? Imagine joining your local Chamber to network, then showing up at your first mixer, and standing in the corner all night with the people you already know. That part, makes little sense to me. 😉

  • http://twitter.com/emerigent Emeri Gent [Em]

    LinkedIn provides a great service but LinkedIn does not have a monopoly on freedom. I chose not to participate on the road increasingly traveled such as the kingdoms of LinkedIn and Facebook because it was a personal choice.

    You have made a personal choice and I don’t view it as advice to others to do the same, but a declaration of personal values.

    Our world must always accommodate choices for in those choices exists evolution rather than fait accompli, so I applaud your values as values.

    Of course I do not benefit from the choice I made not to participate in Facebook or LinkedIn but that choice merely underscores my own value system and for me, it is merely the road less traveled. Sometimes our values outstrip the social benefit but underscore a greater personal benefit, to remain true to our self.


  • sourdoughjoe

    Did you read the TOS before joining? And, regarding Facebook, the actual words of the TOS are meaningless compared to how frequently, drastically, and covertly Zuckerdollar manipulates them (unwritten law is a fitting example, and there’s no good reason to participate willingly in such a system because whatever gains you perceive are insignificant – if even real – compared to what you’ve allowed to be irrevocably taken from you, which will never be something you believe you can lose until you discover it’s gone, likely far into the future). Nothing is free. Anything that appears as such one unknowingly pays for with a usually unknown amount of an unknown commodity. With the US lawmaking process – one of the few well-defined DC procedures – now open to interpretations of convenience, ignorance, or arrogance by anyone with an agenda, the law itself, should it survive with any authority, will never catch up to the contemptible acts of those who despicably innovate new ways to fleece users (the used) of whatever tools they have to create their own meaning and achieve their own fulfillment in the increasingly rare moments when the screen goes dark.

  • sean mulhern

    LinkedIn is starting to be the new Facebook in regards to privacy…shame

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  • http://www.stewartfarr.blogspot.com/ Stewart Farr

    Or.. your prefer to look at photos of cats and puppies rather than read articles about working environments and brand strategy…….its ok, you can be honest with us, we won’t criticize you for it.

    I understand the TOS with Linkedin, if they killed my account tomorrow it would not kill me. The people who know me, know where to find me. I can always make a new account and find the important contacts again.

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  • Dennis McDonald

    My biggest problem with Linkedin is that it isn’t really a good networking tool — yes you can research potential connections but if you want to contact them directly and they are not a 1st degree connection you need to find their contact information elsewhere — which is what I usually end up doing.

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  • Sonia Bruner

    Thank you for sharing that information, it definitely changed my perspective on social media.

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  • Hermgirl

    Also, if you’re not a high level executive, it’s really only just a source of email spam. I joined a bunch of interest groups, which they tell you is a way to benefit from an unpaid membership, which puts you in so many “conversations” it’s hard to keep up. How can something that is such a time-suck be good for helping you develop a career?

    And remembering a recent story somewhere about a user who received a rude, condescending reply to a networking request they sent, one wonders if it is really only a playground for the executive elite and those who can afford the paid membership.

    As your article made me reconsider LinkedIn’s TOS, I decided to kill my account as well, and delete their app from my tablet. I feel a lot lighter now. I will only be spending time on things that give me a return on my time investment from now on.

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  • Jessica Kensinger

    i dislike the no making contacts rule also. I have 1400 contacts and i don’t know any of them. Only rude people follow that rule anyway. They are just trying to limit user’s rights. however, i am still not going to delete my account. I think that is a little extreme and I am not sure even you have explained so far why you needed to do it. But it does look like you wrote a good blog! That’s cool. I never comment. I should start doing more of that. Thanks!

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  • Matteo Cone

    Thanks for sharing such insightful info, much appreciated. Have you perhaps written similar articles on other social media, if yes, where can I access them?

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  • Ben Prusinski

    LinkedIn is a tool for people to spy on workers. It’s useless for those who are unemployed looking for real work.

  • Matt

    I’ve been thinking about doing this for some time, so I just now did it. After getting endorsements from people I’ve never worked with and invites from people I barely know or don’t know at all, I thought “how could this possibly be of any real value”? Knowing the endorsements I had received were complete garbage, how could I trust any information on LinkedIn? Thanks Heather!

  • Tim Greig

    Interesting that your name is still on there with a limited profile. Of course it could be another Heather Bussing, in law. I deleted my account today. sick of the spam and inane articles. I’ve got hours of my life back each month.

  • Peter

    It doesn’t do anything. You’re told it’s the greatest thing ever for your online professional presence but it’s horrible. It’s like a really fancy Rolodex. Remember those?

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  • franklai

    F**k Big Corp, Viva la revolution! Fresh blood is good once in a while.
    Edit: I’m going to be on CIA’s Watchlist now, aren’t.

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