LinkedIn changing user agreement wording to help stop sex ads - WSFA.com: News Weather and Sports for Montgomery, AL.

LinkedIn changing user agreement wording to help stop sex service ads

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LENEXA, KS (KCTV) -

A popular social networking site is working to scrub its database of people who advertise sex services by changing some of the wording in its user agreement.

The site in question is LinkedIn, which has more than 200 million members worldwide. What makes the idea of people using it to advertise sex services more of a concern for the company is that, unlike Facebook, LinkedIn is mostly used for networking among professionals. The board said it doesn't want the sex trade included in its site.

It has been called the world's oldest profession which used to advertise its services in magazines and through the grapevine, but ads for sexual services are frequently appearing online and have now made their way on professional and social networking sites.

"With the online, whether it be social media, whichever page they might prefer, that's very widespread. They can get the message out quickly and reach a larger audience," said Officer Dan Friesen with the Lenexa Police Department.

Friesen said his department is aware of the online sex ads, some of which aren't always overt.

"The message might be somewhat cryptic, however, it seems somewhat obvious what they're talking about and that's what our investigation looks for," he said.

To that end, LinkedIn is working to rid its site of self-promoting sex workers by changing some language in the user agreement. It's a position the company has long held, but in a statement to KCTV5 News, a spokesman said, "the purpose of the rewrite of our user agreement was to make it clearer for our members" because "in some countries, escort services and prostitution (the activity) is lawful."

The new wording is specific, reading, "Even if it is lawful where you are located."

The spokesman went on to read, "As we become aware of profiles and other activity on the site that may be in violation of our policies, we will take appropriate action."

Results of that crackdown appear to be mixed. As of Friday, KCTV5's Dave Jordan found a few sex-related ads on LinkedIn. In Lenexa, KS, Friesen said his department hasn't had any problems with prostitution directly connected to LinkedIn, although investigators are familiar with similar services promoted on backpage.com and Craigslist.

Friesen said he gives high praise to LinkedIn for addressing the problem.

"Without them taking a proactive stance, it kind of looks like they're turning a blind eye to it, so I'm happy to see that they're taking a proactive stance and trying to correct the situation," he said.

LinkedIn is a professional networking site, which allows users to endorse someone they're connected to. An endorsement is similar to Facebook users' liking a status update. That's troubling for LinkedIn because people were endorsing the sex services that were advertised on its site.

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