Microsoft’s social networking platform for professionals, LinkedIn, has close to 600 million users. And while Facebook and Google has been caught indulging in inappropriate data practices, it’s now LinkedIn’s turn. The platform has been called out on several occasions on how it suggests those uncanny connections to you.
Now, according to a report issues by Ireland’s Data Protection Commission (via TechCrunch), LinkedIn used millions of email addresses of non-LinkedIn users to target Facebook ads. The Data Protection Commission conducted an audit after receiving a complaint, and found that LinkedIn violated the data protection regulations.
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To grow its user base, LinkedIn “processed hashed email addresses of approximately 18 million non-LinkedIn members,” the report said. These non-LinkedIn users were then used to target with ads on Facebook. TechCrunch pointed out the a number of companies have moved their data processing operations to Ireland before new European data regulations were implemented. The DPC further said that the “complaint was ultimately amicably resolved,” and LinkedIn stopped processing data of non-members.
“We appreciate the DPC’s 2017 investigation of a complaint about an advertising campaign and fully cooperated. Unfortunately, the strong processes and procedures we have in place were not followed and for that we are sorry. We’ve taken appropriate action, and have improved the way we work to ensure that this will not happen again. During the audit, we also identified one further area where we could improve data privacy for non-members and we have voluntarily changed our practices as a result,” Denis Kelleher, Head of Privacy, EMEA, for LinkedIn told the publication.
LinkedIn’s move to stop using user data without consent indicate that the company is working in good faith. However, this also indicates how tech companies are willing to push the boundaries when it comes to user data and increase their user base.