Monday, November 10, 2014

LinkedIn: greedy, evil or just plain stupid?

Prof. Matt Strassler writes: (my emphasis)
I use LinkedIn sparingly, though I have found it beneficial on occasion. But one of its features is that its software is constantly asking you if you want to make LinkedIn-contact with people whom it thinks you might know. That’s understandable; LinkedIn has to make money, and information and contacts are money for them.

But there’s one LinkedIn request that you have to be careful with, in which they ask for permission to import your contacts lists and send LinkedIn invitations to make contact with every single person on that list. 

I don’t have to explain to you why this would typically be undesirable… it’s obvious. Just think of one person you’d rather not talk to, or who’d rather not hear from you, who might be down in a forgotten corner of your list of contacts.

In the old days, if you were to plan something so drastic as contacting hundreds of unrelated people on a single day about joining your professional network, you’d be discussing it on the phone or at a desk with a company representative, having a conversation. And you’d probably have to sign a piece of paper. Moreover, you’d have at least a few minutes, if not days, to consider what you’d done and change your mind.

In the modern age ... clicking is enough. But everyone knows that it is easy to misread something and click on it, or do something through accidental clicking of a touch-pad, a slip of a mouse, or a bump of a touchscreen. I don’t know which of these happened to me yesterday. In any case, in order to take an action as outlandish and irrevocable as sending blanket faux-personalized email invitations to everyone I have ever known, it is essential for a company to have a warning pop-up: “This action will send email invitations to 452 individuals. Are you sure you want to do this?” The default should be “No“, and you have to click on “Yes” for the action to go ahead.

But for LinkedIn, as I discovered yesterday, a single click is apparently all it takes, with no warning screen.  In my opinion, this is somewhere between unethical, negligent, and sneaky.

Actually let’s just call it evil.
I guess like most people on LinkedIn, I've also almost been a victim of this scam. My email-contacts list has more than a thousand entries, based on years of working in high-tech companies and as a technology consultant. I read about Prof. Strassler's disaster and thought, 'There but for the grace of God' ...

Now that I'm out of that, I think LinkedIn is just too high-risk. Goodbye, guys - you brought it on yourselves.