Have you ever taken a look at the LinkedIn User Agreement?
You’ll find a long list of LinkedIn user “don’ts”. Violate any of these and you risk having them limit your use, or take down your profile.
A scary thought, since so many people rely on LinkedIn for executive job search, career and business management.
Refraining from doing some things is just common sense.
Most of us know better than to post a lewd profile photo of ourselves. But did you know that the Agreement states you must not “misrepresent your identity”?
I’ve seen plenty of profile photos of animals, or children (presumably the members’ children), or logos. The member doesn’t even appear in the photo.
Then there are the company logos, sketches, and caricatures that stand in for a profile photo.
And did you realize that when you hire someone to create your LinkedIn profile, you’d better not let them log into your account to post the new content? You should post it yourself.
What can LinkedIn do to you?
Under the “Rights & Limits” section, LinkedIn indicates that they can “limit your use of the Services, including the number of your connections and your ability to contact other Members” and they reserve “the right to restrict, suspend, or terminate your account if you breach this Contract or the law or are misusing the Services (e.g., violating any of the Dos and Don’ts or Professional Community Policies).”
Believe me, they DO monitor activity and what’s on your profile. Two times within the past several years, I was notified that I misused the name field on my profile by adding “Executive Resume Master”. Both times I had to point out that this is an actual certification I earned, and that I included this certification in the appropriate profile section as well. Certifications are allowed in the name field. I was doing nothing wrong, but my profile was red-flagged.
Take a few moments to look at the User Agreement. It’s an eye-opener.
Some Surprising LinkedIn User “Don’ts”
Here are some things I pulled from LinkedIn’s “DOs” and “DON’Ts”, listed in Section 8 of the Agreement, that particularly apply to job seekers.
Members must not:
1. Create a false identity on LinkedIn, misrepresent your identity, create a Member profile for anyone other than yourself (a real person), or use or attempt to use another’s account.
2. Disclose information that you do not have the consent to disclose (such as confidential information of others (including your employer)).
3. Violate the intellectual property rights of others, including copyrights, patents, trademarks, trade secrets or other proprietary rights. For example, do not copy or distribute (except through the available sharing functionality) the posts or other content of others without their permission, which they may give by posting under a Creative Commons license.
Along with the 3 items above, additional terms are included in their Professional Community Policies, which became effective in December 2019.