What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us. Ralph Waldo Emerson
A South African High Court on March 8, 2017 reportedly gave a former estate agent five days to correct the employment information on his LinkedIn profile.
Three years after Mr. X resigned from his position at company Y, his profile still reflected that he was employed there. Despite two years’ worth of requests from the company to correct the information, eventually followed by a demand from its lawyer, Mr. X refused to do so. The company then approached the court for an order to compel the profile correction.
The court granted the order on the basis that Mr. X’s profile was misleading. The company successfully argued that it did not want to be associated with its former employee and that his misrepresentation on LinkedIn could cause serious harm to the company’s image. Although it has not yet done so, the company said that it reserved the right to claim any damages resulting from its name being linked with Mr X.
What are the risks of an outdated profile?
Mr. X could not (and did not) argue that he had simply forgotten to update his LinkedIn profile after he resigned, as he was asked to do so on many occasions. But many users, particularly those who are only semi-active on social media sites might legitimately forget, or think it unimportant, to keep their profiles up to date.
Here are some reasons why users should:
Inaccurate information, like Mr. X’s employment data, may amount to wrongful misrepresentation. If another person suffers a loss as a result, a user may face a damages claim.
Using a former employer’s trade name or logo may be an intellectual property infringement.
An inaccurate or outdated profile is bad for the user’s own brand. LinkedIn is specifically aimed at facilitating professional connections. Many people promote their businesses on other social media sites, like Facebook and Twitter. Incorrect profile information not only makes the user appear unprofessional, but may actually prevent potential clients or other business connections from contacting the user.
What does LinkedIn say about profile accuracy?
When a user creates a LinkedIn profile, each user must agree that the profile information will be truthful. Each user also agrees not to:
• act dishonestly or unprofessionally, including by posting inaccurate content;
• misrepresent current or previous positions and qualifications; or
• misrepresent affiliations with a person or entity, past or present.