Twenty-five percent of adult internet users in the U.S. and 22 percent of the entire adult population in the U.S. use LinkedIn according to a Mobile Messaging and Social Media 2015 report from Pew Research Center. In fact, LinkedIn is the only major social media platform for which usage rates are higher among 30- to 49-year-olds than among 18- to 29-year-olds.
However, just because 25 percent of adult Internet users have spent time on LinkedIn, doesn’t necessarily mean they understand the ins and outs of the platform. From missing profile pictures to duplicate accounts, I’m sure you can think of someone who’s on LinkedIn, but doesn’t quite know how to use it. And possibly for that reason, features like “Mentioned in the News” seem to go relatively unnoticed.
LinkedIn’s “Mentioned in the News” is an automated feature that reviews online news articles and matches the names included in those article to LinkedIn members. This is different than when someone mentions you or your company in an update. Instead of waiting for someone to tag you or your company to get a bit of additional visibility, “Mentioned in the News” has the potential to automatically push content related to you and/or your company to your followers on LinkedIn.
From a media relations perspective, I find this feature intriguing, especially for clients looking to build themselves as thought leaders. Just think, an automatic way to further promote the content or other coverage that you’ve worked so hard to secure. Yes. Sign me up. I’d expect publishers to like it too. Imagine, each article automatically promoted to those who would care about it, people already familiar with the subject of the story or contributing author.
All that said, it’s not all love for “Mentioned in the News” — more on that in a moment.
What Happens When Some is “Mentioned in the News”?
So, what happens when you’re “Mentioned in the News”? According to LinkedIn Help, “when [the] algorithm identifies a news story that mentions you, you’ll receive a You Made the News email. This email includes the news stories about you that are shared with your LinkedIn connections and followers, should your privacy settings allow such sharing. If there’s an article that’s incorrectly associated with you or that you’d like to remove, click Remove Article. If you’d like to share a news article that mentions you more widely, click Share.”
Depending on your settings, your connections also get an email. The subject line includes your name and “in the news” The content of the email includes your name, profile picture, the outlet where you were mentioned and a quick summary of that article, likely pulled from the meta data.
When a story about you is included in this feature, it can also appear as an update in the feed of your connections and followers.
Why Would Someone Want to Turn Off “Mentioned in the News”?
For all the positive aspects of “Mentioned in the News,” the feature has plenty of haters. One of my favorite articles on the topic promises to help “hush LinkedIn’s privacy-nuking new feature.” While I’d like to argue that aggregating content that already exists on the Internet is in no-way compromising privacy, I understand the point the author is trying to make. Not all news is good news and LinkedIn’s “Mentioned in the News” feature has the potential to magnify both the good and the bad equally. Here are a few other reasons people may have reservations about this feature:
- LinkedIn’s algorithm get it wrong. According to LinkedIn Help, “an algorithm determines whether a news item mentioning a common name like John Smith is about your friend John Smith or a different John Smith” and admits that “while this algorithm is good, it’s not perfect.” LinkedIn goes on to encourage checking that the “person or organization in an article is the same person or organization you’re following” and flagging incorrect, offensive or inappropriate content by clicking “Wrong Person” or “Wrong Organization.”
- It doesn’t always work. As LinkedIn Help explains, the platform “can’t guarantee that every article about you or a person or organization you follow is picked up. This could be because the name is too common for our system to be confident in the match, the article content is considered objectionable, or the publication (i.e. New York Times) doesn’t allow us to pull articles from its site, among other reasons.” So, even if you want to take advantage of LinkedIn “Mentioned in the News” you might be unable to do so based on your name, the outlet or the article itself.
Which brings me to the main objection:
- You’re not in control. LinkedIn doesn’t currently have any controls put in place to allow members to generate their own “Mentioned in the News” entries. You also can’t truly review articles the algorithm has identified and decide between what you’d like to push out to your connections and what you’d rather sweep under the rug.
In the article referring to the feature as “Privacy-Nuking,” the author discovered a connection was fired based on articles in trade publications that were featured on his feed based on “Mentioned in the News.” Those facing crisis communication situations could run into similar issues.
How Do You Change Your “Mentioned in the News” Settings?
All of these things considered, you might be feeling very strongly about how you want your stories that mention you to be broadcast (or not broadcast) on LinkedIn. Luckily for you, the “Mentioned in the News” feature is relatively simple to turn on or off. Once you’re logged in to your personal LinkedIn account, follow these steps to turn this feature either off or on:
- Under “Account & Settings,” select manage next to “Privacy & Settings”
- From your Settings homepage, choose “Privacy”
- Scroll down to “Notifying connections when you’re in the news”
Because the “Mentioned in the News” feature is easy to turn on and off, I wouldn’t rush to disable it. Understanding the benefits and drawbacks and how to best control this feature, can help maximize the benefits for you or your client while preventing communications headaches of broadcasting less than favorable news.
A version of this article first appeared on the BLASTmedia blog.