LinkedIn disables targeted ads tool to comply with EU regulations

The DSA requires online intermediaries to give users more control over their data and prohibits using sensitive personal data for targeted advertising.


In a move to align with EU’s technology regulations, LinkedIn, the professional networking platform owned by Microsoft, has disabled a tool that facilitated targeted advertising. The decision comes in adherence to the Digital Services Act (DSA), which imposes strict rules on tech companies operating within the EU.

The move by LinkedIn followed a complaint by several civil society organizations, including European Digital Rights (EDRi), Gesellschaft für Freiheitsrechte (GFF), Global Witness, and Bits of Freedom, to the European Commission. These groups raised concerns that LinkedIn’s tool might allow advertisers to target users based on sensitive personal data such as racial or ethnic origin, political opinions, and other personal details due to their membership in LinkedIn groups.

In March, the European Commission had sent a request for information to LinkedIn after these groups highlighted potential violations of the DSA. The DSA requires online intermediaries to provide users with more control over their data, including an option to turn off personalised content  and to disclose how algorithms impact their online experience. It also prohibits the use of sensitive personal data, such as race, sexual orientation, or political opinions, for targeted advertising. In recent years, the EU has been at the forefront of enforcing data privacy and protection laws, notably with the GDPR. The DSA builds on these principles, focusing more explicitly on the accountability of online platforms and their role in shaping public discourse.

A LinkedIn spokesperson emphasised that the platform remains committed to supporting its users and advertisers, even as it navigates these regulatory changes. “We are continually reviewing and updating our processes to ensure compliance with applicable laws and regulations,” the spokesperson said. “Disabling this tool is a proactive step to align with the DSA’s requirements and to maintain the trust of our community.” EU industry chief Thierry Breton commented on LinkedIn’s move, stating, “The Commission will monitor the effective implementation of LinkedIn’s public pledge to ensure full compliance with the DSA.” 

Why does it matter?

The impact of LinkedIn’s decision extends beyond its immediate user base and advertisers. Targeted ads have been a lucrative source of income for social media platforms, allowing advertisers to reach niche markets with high precision. By disabling this tool, LinkedIn is setting a precedent for other tech companies to follow, highlighting the importance of regulatory compliance and user trust.