Recently, LinkedIn joined Facebook Connect in its goal of integrating itself into all the other websites you use by offering little, easy-to-integrate buttons for on any site. Their technical announcement breaks down what they’re offering:
- Sign In with LinkedIn, which makes it easier for users to authenticate or register for a site using their LinkedIn identity
- Share, a button which enables users to share a website with LinkedIn’s professional audience
- Member Profile, which brings LinkedIn profiles to a site
- Full Member Profile, which brings larger, more detailed LinkedIn profiles to a site
- Company Profile, which displays key company info at-a-glance
- Company Insider, which shows rich company data from several different views
- Recommend, a button which enables users to recommend a company’s products and drive traffic back to them
What can consumers expect from all these buttons?
First, these buttons make it easier for you to login or register at new sites where you don’t have accounts. One click; you’re in. Behind the scenes, your personal profile data from the button-providing site (say LinkedIn) is instantly transferred to the new site. What exactly about you is transferred from LinkedIn to the new site, and what does LinkedIn choose to keep private? They don’t show you. And, next, what gets transferred back to your LinkedIn profile from the new site? Again, they don’t show you.
Second, the buttons allow you to express preferences whenever you feel like it: to “Like” or “Recommend” something anywhere you happen to see it.
Should you use these buttons?
Every site would like you to use all the buttons and do so as much as possible. After all, you’re helping them with their tremendous ongoing data gathering and user-profiling exercise that builds up more and more information about what you do, where you are, when you visit sites, and what you do there. It spreads the information you’ve shared with one site across thousands of others, constantly updating and cross-referencing information about you at all of them.
How to get the convenience but preserve your privacy
Don’t click. Don’t let your information leak out for others to Google in the future. There may come a time when that information, which seems innocent now, will become interesting and relevant to someone in your life: an employer, ex-boyfriend, attorney, friend, whoever. You won’t want them to see the specific things about you that these buttons have collected and shared without you ever seeing the effects.
Instead, use login helpers and auto-fillers in your browser or that you download (like the one in Abine’s PrivacySuite), and that don’t instantly share your online activity with other sites that keep logs of your behavior and personal information.
Got an interesting story about using Facebook Connect or other similar buttons? Let us know (info [at] getabine [dot] com) and we’ll publish it here this week.