LinkedIn Disables Ad Feature In Europe Over Targeting Concerns

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LinkedIn disables feature allowing advertisers to target European users based on membership in groups after concerns over DSA compliance

Microsoft-owned LinkedIn has disabled a feature that allowed advertisers to target users based on their participation in a feature called LinkedIn Groups in Europe after complaints the feature violated EU regulations around ad profiling.

In February civil liberties groups complained to the European Commission the ad tool was potentially in violation of the new Digital Services Act, which applies stricter content and ad-targeting obligations to the largest online platforms.

In March the Commission contacted LinkedIn for further information on how the tool might be enabling targeted ads based on sensitive personal data such as race, political allegiance or sexual orientation, something prohibited under the DSA.

LinkedIn maintained it was not in contravention of the DSA but removed the feature for European users.

Image credit: European Commission
Image credit: European Commission


The company’s ad tools will no longer allow advertisers to “create an advertising audience in Europe” that uses membership in LinkedIn Groups as an input, said the company’s vice president for legal and digital safety Patrick Corrigan in a Friday blog post.

“We made this change to prevent any misconception that ads to European members could be indirectly targeted based on special categories of data or related profiling categories,” Corrigan said.

He added the change was “effective now” for all new advertising campaigns.

Platforms covered by the DSA are required to give users more control of their personal data, enable them to turn off personalised content and are not allowed to use sensitive data for targeted ads.

EU industry commissioner Thierry Breton said the Commission would “monitor the effective implementation of LinkedIn’s public pledge to ensure full compliance with the DSA”.


He added that it was “positive to see the DSA delivering change that no other law has attained so far”.

“Forced by Europe to act, LinkedIn must now widen this policy to users everywhere and ensure it’s not just those in Europe who are protected from invasive ad targeting”, said Nienke Palstra of Global Witness, which was one of the original complainants, along with European Digital Rights (EDRi), Gesellschaft für Freiheitsrechte (GFF) and Bits of Freedom.

In May the Commission named Temu as a “very large online platform” (VLOP) under the DSA, the 24th to receive the designation.