What can you put in your name field on LinkedIn?

April 19th, 2013 | by Jason Alba |

Over the years there has been talk about the Name field… in the early days people would put email addresses and phone numbers, and that was against the policy.  Apparently this was because you could put in contact info and go around using LinkedIn to communicate (or, to pay for the upgrade to inmail someone).

Even though it is really easy for LinkedIn to put some code in to prevent people from unknowingly violating this policy on LinkedIn, they choose not to and have (and are) disabling people’s accounts.

The talk now is what about acronyms, titles and any part of a tagline?

I doubt anyone is really reading the user policy before they sign up.  Here’s what is in the user agreement:

10.2.2: [Don’t undertake the following:] Publish inaccurate information in the designated fields on the profile form (e.g., do not include a link or an email address in the name field).

Also,

10.2.8.c:  [don't add] to a content field content that is not intended for such field (i.e. submitting a telephone number in the “title” or any other field, or including telephone numbers, email addresses, street addresses or any personally identifiable information for which there is not a field provided by LinkedIn);

So there you go.

Does this mean you can’t say what you do or are in your name field?  I think it should be okay.  The problem is that it is not being consistently enforced or communicated to users.

It’s easy to mistakenly put the information in the name field.  Does that merit a 30 day account shut-down?

People who put a tagline or other info, aside from an email address or phone number, are REWARDED by LinkedIn’s search algorithms.  They are showing up higher if the keywords they use in their title are in the name field.

LinkedIn could easily clean this up and make it clearer at the User Interface (UI) level… instead of hoping any of the 200M members have read their user agreement.

Personally, I think LinkedIn should work harder on enforcing 10.2.8.d, which talks about spammers.  My heavens they should be busy on that one instead of this one.

At the end of the day, I tell my clients I like to see a “clean name,” that doesn’t even have acronyms… put that stuff elsewhere.

(An issue here is “what can be done” vs “what should you be able to do.”  If LinkedIn is going to bust you for violating a policy that you haven’t heard of, I think they should build in some safeguards to help you know you are violating their policy before the penalize you)

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