Like the Terms and Conditions for its social networking brethren, Facebook and Twitter, LinkedIn’s User Agreement is long and chocked full of legalese.

Unlike Facebook and Twitter, LinkedIn makes the severity of its User Agreement much more obvious to the user. It says “Note: You are entering into a legally binding agreement” (click screen grab below to see larger):

linkedin

There’s no mystery with LinkedIn’s terms: You’d better be ready for a “legally binding agreement.”

The agreement goes on to emphasize accuracy and truth when creating a profile, both of which are commendable ethical standards to hold users to:

 … you promise that your LinkedIn profile will be truthful. … It is your responsibility to keep your LinkedIn profile information accurate and updated.”

LinkedIn also builds in the caveat that its services are only meant for users who are the “Minimum Age” or older, which differs from country to country; in China, the minimum age is 18 while it is 14 for the United States.

Like Facebook and Twitter, LinkedIn warns users that the information they share on the web is never fully private, and to keep this in mind when it comes to business dealings:

Therefore, if you have an idea or information that you would like to keep confidential or don’t want others to use, or that is subject to third party rights that may be infringed by your sharing it, do not post it to any LinkedIn Group, into your Network Updates, or elsewhere on LinkedIn. LINKEDIN IS NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR ANOTHER’S MISUSE OR MISAPPROPRIATION OF ANY CONTENT OR INFORMATION YOU POST ON LINKEDIN.”

I am all for LinkedIn wanting to hold people to a high ethical standard by keeping their profiles up to date, and for keeping young children off of a service meant for adults. But there is no way they can enforce these standards all of the time. (Technically, even I’ve been in violation of the LinkedIn User Agreement. On some occasions, I’ve gone a few months without updating my LinkedIn profile after switching jobs.) The World Wide Web is too vast and wide to catch everything. So how can the company protect itself from potential unscrupulous characters?

By adding a statement like this in its disclaimer:

LINKEDIN DOES NOT CONTROL OR VET USER GENERATED CONTENT FOR ACCURACY.”

Yet the whole agreement itself still has the potential to be ignored. When one goes to sign up for an account, they are told that “By clicking Join LinkedIn, you agree to LinkedIn’s User Agreement, Privacy Policy and Cookie Policy.” Many folks who are ready to sign up and connect with professional connections will probably just click the “Join” button and not think twice.

As a whole, social networks almost really need to hit users over the head with their terms and conditions, making it something people actually need to read carefully instead of being able to just check a box and move on.

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