Linda Ikeji Social: A venture with good intentions, a blurred future and questionable privacy policy

Remember the PRISMA photo editor? Or even Pokemon Go? LIS may end up like these promising brands if measures aren’t taken.

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About a week ago I read a blog post on Nigeria’s biggest celebrity and gossip blogger – Linda Ikeji. It spoke at length about the launch of her social media site –LindaIkejiSocial(LIS). I remember the post didn’t hesitate to complain about its Lags and bugs. And the fact that it was a heavy clone of Facebook.

I didn’t want to jump into any conclusions yet, basically because new products are met with polar views and  websites often have issues in their first quarter of release. This post you’re reading was written about a week after the site’s release because pressure on the site in the first week was high. And I wanted to be sure the issues were not because of the high traffic directed to their server.

What is it all about?

The About page states that “LIS” (Linda Ikeji Social) is a social blogging community where users can socialize, read exclusive News / Gossips, share contents and get awesome reward. On the LIS community, everyone is invited to submit eye witness news happening around them and earn rewards.

UPDATE: It has come to my attention the typos in this post. This was copied directly from their site. I guess they meant, “…share content and get awesome rewards…”

Sounds great, like a mix of micro blogging (Twitter), social media (Facebook), freelance blogging (Freelancer) and a classified(OLX).

The latter part of the statement quoted above mentions “..earn reward[s]”. From what I’ve gathered, it simply means that you get paid; money whenever you submit a post to Linda Ikeji and it is accepted. The strategy she is trying implement sounds just like what TMZ is doing now i.e. paying leads and this poses a huge problem.

Since TMZ’s inception in 2005, they have come under heavy criticism about misleading the public and also overstepping the boundaries of people. This is because they get their news from sources close to celebrities and the sources, knowing they will be paid will go all at length to get the stories even if it means telling half truths.

This strategy isn’t the best, considering the fact that people lie extensively on issues. I hope her team researches very well on the scoops before publishing to reduce or even stop the falsehood. Just like what Wendy Williams does with the Hot Topics segment on her show.

What is on the site?

In an interview with CNN, Linda stated that Facebook is their main competitor. But who’s she kidding! Facebook is their canvas. The site’s entire layout and user experience has a striking resemblance to that of Facebook’s.

And here’s why; just like Facebook the landing page has a  Logo on the top left banner with the login section on its immediate right. Again you can register on the content screen. The background also features a nicely designed graphic of a figure that looks like Linda Ikeji with some other people.

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Home page of Linda Ikeji Social

I had to run a quick search on the landing pages of some popular social media sites to confirm if LIS’ design is the new black, but no only Facebook had that exact layout. The only difference between LIS’ and Facebook’s current landing page is the graphic and set of colors.

Actual site

The homepage is filled with posts only from Linda’s blog. Users can open the posts within the site and interact underneath it. There is a tab that’s called ‘wallet’ which shows your earnings from submitting stories.

Like Twitter or Instagram and unlike Facebook, you can follow and be followed by other users. You also access a cumulative timeline of activities of the accounts you follow.

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My Profile on LIS which is quite similar to Facebook’s layout

The whole interface is a perfect Facebook clone, form ads of the right side, messages on the top right banner and even chats on the lower right corner. In my POV this is great because her team reverse engineered the main features of Facebook.

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What is their stance on privacy?

The privacy policy looked user friendly until I realized a section titled “waivers” had some questioning statements. It says that “Event participants grant LIS the right to use any image, photograph, voice or likeness, without limitation, in its promotional materials and publicity efforts without compensation. All media become the property of LIS. Media may be displayed, distributed or used by LIS for any purpose. By registering for, or attending, this event you agree to the collection, use, and disclosure of Personally Identifiable Information (PII).”

In plain English all it is saying is that they own full and exclusive rights to all multimedia taken of/from you whenever to attend any of their offline events. And WILL use it at their own discretion without your prior concern.

It is imperative to note that the privacy law backing this clause which is the Personal Identifiable Information (PII) also known as sensitive personal information SPI. This can be used to contact, locate or identify an individual in context.

Yes, all social media sites take these personal information when enter them into the profile section,  but never use your details or multimedia for promotional purposes. They keep these details in-house and use them in critical situations. Like when the feds need to trace a criminal.

A summary of problems that need to be fixed

  • Any country you enter when editing your profile changes to Nigeria after reloading your profile.
  • The privacy policy needs some serious revision before users get to punch holes in it.
  • The overall strategy is great but needs some tweaking.
  • Incorporate actual ecommence not just Ads and classifieds.
  • The whole point of reading a blog and shopping doesn’t sync. Linda Ikeji can use her image to run a successful online shop and sell collections instead of this. Because this currently is just her blog + a shop.
  • Users MUST be able to opt out after registering. Make account deletion available and placed conveniently.

My final take and conclusion

LIS is just her blog plus user profiles plus money making opportunities. And not the “one-stop shop for everything online” she makes it seem.  The whole marketing strategy of rewarding leads is a good initiative though I’m skeptical about the authenticity of the sources; considering the world we live in.

The site became popular upon release because of her celebrity status and will plunge in user ratings if they don’t revise their strategies soon. Remember the PRISMA photo editor? Or even Pokemon Go? LIS may end up like these promising brands if measures aren’t taken.

After trying out LIS, I wanted to delete my account but there was no way out. If there even is, why isn’t it in an obvious place? This is a clear violation of the users rights.