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Is the use of a stolen or borrowed profile photo on your professional profile ethical and/or a misrepresentation?

Nederlands: Linked In icon

What is LinkedIn?
LinkedIn by its own definition is: –

The mission of LinkedIn is to connect the world’s professionals to enable them to be more productive and successful. To achieve our Mission, we make services available through our website, mobile applications, and developer platform, to help you, your connections, and millions of other professionals meet, exchange ideas, learn, make deals, find opportunities or employees, work, and make decisions in a network of trusted relationships and groups.

The profile photo issue.

I have been quite active on LinkedIn flagging inappropriate job postings. This led me to chasing down bogus profiles and flagging them to LinkedIn. I made reference to this in a previous blog @ Is LinkedIn Doing Enough To Stop Spammers and Scammers.

The reason I pose the question above is; whilst debating in a group over a stolen photo appearing on a profile one contributor made, what I thought, was an unusual or naive comment. It was not made by the poster.

The gist of the comment was that they didn’t see anything wrong in members using such photo’s, after all members may be shy or not want to be recognised.

Rf avatar

Rf avatar (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

They didn’t see a real problem with borrowing someone else’s photo, leaving it blank or using a Gravatar/Avatar. Now, I am not saying this is a common view, but it is surprising how many members cannot believe that others would use stolen photo’s.

Now at this point I should remind you, in an un-patronising voice 😉 LinkedIn is a network for ‘professionals’ hoping to gain some kind of advantage by being a member. Even if that advantage is only advice or information.

I write this piece to point out to the member above, and all those who may have a similar view, or are naive of the use of stolen photo’s, pictures or Gravatars/Avatars.

The Point

The Point

  • Stealing is not a professional trait.
  • False representation is not a professional trait.
Well certainly not ones to be desired.

I would also like to ask one question.
If you were going for a job or to conduct business, would you wear a mask or send an impersonator in your place or expect your interviewers to be wearing masks?

I believe, without a shadow of doubt, any genuine professional who wishes to succeed with their business would not consider such diversions. So there is no valid reason or excuse for an honest person conducting a business or advertising a service on LinkedIn to hide behind a stolen photo or a bogus profile. Unless of course that business was a scam, spam or unethical.

The use of Avatars,/Gravatrs or not posting a profile photo.

For those who are genuinely just enjoying group discussions and seeking help, guidance or information there is no harm in using an alternative image, even if its somebody else’s photo. I add the rider to the latter part, as long as it is recognisable that the image is obviously not the owner of the profile I.e Johnny Depp, Kate Moss etc. and not stolen or copyrighted.

Company logo’s I could accept as alternatives to genuine photo’s.

Extra: Another ploy with profile photo’s

Blurred Photo

Another ploy used by bogus profiles, is to use a significantly blurred or dark photo that creates havoc with the software used to match pictures, thus returning inaccurate results and, often, images that are not even people.

Nigelld, Wrapcloth Writings, @wrapclothwrites         Copyright 2012

Without sadness, happiness would become mundane