Microsoft recently announced its $26.2 billion cash acquisition of the popular professional social networking website LinkedIn. Some have speculated that LinkedIn was undervalued, while others have been much less optimistic of Microsoft’s ability to generate a return on its investment. But perhaps the more significant question is how this will impact the privacy of LinkedIn users.
With more than 400 million members globally, LinkedIn is arguably the largest and most popular professional social media network. And in the social media world, with great popularity comes great power. The most valuable asset of LinkedIn may be the information that is contained in essentially the world’s largest employment database. In acquiring this prized data, Microsoft now has access to millions of professional profiles, their associated employment histories, and any other information that users share on the site.
On the other hand, the information within LinkedIn is arguably much less personal than a user’s search history on Microsoft’s Bing. There is also a strong argument that LinkedIn users control how they interact with the site and what information they choose to share, and therefore they do not have to share such information if they have privacy concerns. However, in today’s world, stopping oneself from oversharing on social media sites may prove more difficult than at first glance.
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