September 10, 2021
LinkedIn GDPR violation

LinkedIn used 18 Million Email Addresses to Buy Targeted Facebook Ads, Violating the GDPR

An alleged LinkedIn GDPR violation claims the professional networking company used some 18 million non-member emails for Facebook ad targeting…

LinkedIn, the professional networking site, with nearly 600 million members demonstrates time and again its connection suggestion prowess. Somehow, with seemingly little to no information, the platform suggests connections between members and even non-members. Now, part of how it’s pulling of such feats is becoming clearer.

LinkedIn Violated GDPR using Non-Member Emails for Facebook Targeted Ad Buys

European regulators have conducted an investigation after a user complaint in 2017. It found out one way the site gets people to sign-up for its service. LinkedIn admitted using an astounding 18 million email addresses for targeted ad buys on Facebook. These weren’t members, either. 

LinkedIn in the United States obtained the 18 million email addresses to buy targeted ads on the world’s largest social network “with the absence of instruction from the data controller,” the report finds.

In other words, LinkedIn gathered millions of non-member email addresses for targeted Facebook ad buys which were to persuade people to start using LinkedIn.

However, it remains unknown just how LinkedIn obtained those email addresses. But, the company has since halted the practice. Denis Kelleher, Head of Privacy, EMEA, for LinkedIn, says: 

“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.”

Ashley Lipman

Ashley Lipman is a super-connector with Outreachmama who helps businesses find their audience online through outreach, partnerships, and networking.

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