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.

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