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LinkedIn opens itself up to children

Graeme Parton

LinkedIn, the social network which caters predominantly for professionals, has announced that it will soon be changing its minimum profile-owner age  from 18 down to 13.

The profiles of anyone under the age of 18 will, however, be affected by additional measures to ensure safety and privacy are kept at a maximum level. This will involve settings making it impossible for those who are not connected with a child to see their personal information.

As well as this, any support requests made by the young profile-owners will be handled separately.

LinkedIn’s decision came very shortly after it unveiled University Pages, a feature which allows institutions of higher education to create profiles.

Speaking about the changes, which come into effect on September 12, The Oxford Internet Institute’s Dr Bernie Hogan explained:

“The development will help children to differentiate between the public profile they want for employment [and] the personal profile they share on Facebook with their friends and family.

“I am personally opposed to employers intruding on Facebook pages while screening candidates. The risk of unintended discrimination is very high.”

Dr Hogan went on, however, to express concern that the site’s new members may start to alter its usefulness for existing users if they start to use LinkedIn in the same way that many use Facebook – to play computer games and set up parody accounts.

In terms of educational establishments, so far, the University of Michigan, New York University and Insead – a French business college – have established profiles, with Christina Allen from LinkedIn saying in a blog post:

“University Pages will be especially valuable for students making their first big decision about where to attend college.”

At Pressroom, we’re interested to see how the new developments will affect LinkedIn’s standing as the most popular social platform among B2B marketers. While on the face of it, a bigger audience would appear to be a good thing, the site’s appeal undoubtedly lies in the way in which its users see it as a professional space; the introduction of children into the equation may have the potential to compromise this.

Graeme has experience creating content for online sources and for the radio, and at university he studied Multimedia Journalism.

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