Aug 16, 2007

Privacy Matters

So both Ad Age and Newsweek seem to have simultaneously discovered Facebook.

And completely missed LinkedIn and what makes it a far superior networking device for anyone who doesn’t want to mix their business and social lives.

The key to LinkedIn—and I can’t emphasize enough what a big deal this is—is privacy. You see with LinkedIn, the only way I can see who your connections are is if they’re my connections as well. Or connections of my connections. (Even then, it won’t tell you who they are—just that one or more of Xs “connections” knows your buddies Y and Z.) Better yet, you can turn that feature off, so that even people you’re connected to can’t see who else is part of your posse.

That’s huge. Facebook feels like you’ve put your entire address book online for the world to see. Which is very cool when you’re a senior in college, but not so cool when you’re a senior vice president.

LinkedIn also doesn’t require photographs. So I never have to see pictures of people I work with at the beach with no shirt on. I don’t have to know what kind of music they like either, or whether or not they saw “Die Hard 3.” The only feature it seems to have is a “Question” section that seems to draw a surprising amount of traffic. (You only get to see/answer questions from people in your extended network. Most of those doing the asking in my extended network seem to be some sort of HR consultants.)

I’m not saying that Facebook is useless: it’s a great for socializing, particularly if you’re in a life stage where that takes priority. Many of the tools on there are a lot of fun and definitely have potential beyond Facebook.

But for a business-only social network, LinkedIn seems to have found the right formula.

PS: Shout out to Matt Dickman for getting me thinking about all this. The video on his blog about LinkedIn explains this far better than I can.

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