Linkedin recently released an update to their “user agreement” which expands their authority to “control” how people and businesses can use their network. The newly revised “user agreement” basically states that Linkedin has at their discretion the authority to deem if a users behavior and/or use of “their” network is considered inappropriate then they have the right to terminate your membership.
So in other words using their network, not your network, presents a risk to users who rely on “the network” to advance personal or professional objectives. The risk is that for whatever ambiguous reason or unintended cause your membership may be terminated and subsequently you could loose future use of the network and all your contacts if you haven’t backed them up regularly.
Whose Network is It?
Now one can understand why the major network operators, i.e. Linkedin, Facebook and others, would want to protect their brand from abuse but protectionism could come at a cost.
The value gains to network operators are driven by the number of users and frequency of use. Operators continually add new functions, features and partnerships as an attempt to create attraction, traction and market differential. So the brand value of a network operator is largely driven by the number of people who use the network. In other words it is people and usage that create the brand value. If the brand value is driven by people and usage one would think a brands relationship with the people ought to be considered with a balanced respect for one another, just maybe.
What Other “Networks” Do You Use?
We all use numerous “networks” to communicate and relate to other people on a daily basis. We use the “mobile and landline” networks to converse via phone. We use ISP networks to converse via the internet. We use broadcast networks to receive media. We use financial networks to facilitate transactions. We use “networks” of every kind to accomplish our daily routines both personally and professionally. In other words “networks” have become an integral part of living and relating.
Now imagine if any of those other interrelated “network” operators had user agreements that enable them to decide one day that your use of “the network” is somehow hurting their brand and subsequently your phone, internet and televisions, bank accounts, credit cards were all disconnected for some ambiguous reason. Hmmmmm….guess I better go read all the tiny print in all the user agreements of the multiple networks I rely on to live.
The more I think about it just maybe I need a “user agreement” between my spouse, my children, my friends, my business associates and all the service providers I use. Oh yeah, what about all the institutions and organization that I have a “social relationship” with? Do they have user agreements?
Now imagine having to create your own user agreement and saying to your spouse; Honey, I need to protect my brand from anything I deem as possibly hurting my brand at anytime and for any reason. Here is my “user agreement” and you don’t have to sign anything because simply by having a relationship with me you agree to my terms. Let me know if you have any questions but my “user agreement” cannot be changed.
Honey wait, please put down the gun!
What say you?