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That's really creepy - dorsetgirl
October 14th, 2014
09:46 pm
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That's really creepy
.
I've just received an email notification from someone I know socially, saying she'd like to add me to her "professional network on LinkedIn".

So far, so fair enough. She has my email address and she has no reason to know that I don't have a LinkedIn profile (in my circumstances, why would I need one?).

But the really creepy bit is the "other people you may know on LinkedIn". It lists three people, two of whom I actually do know. In real life, not online. But given that I don't have a LinkedIn profile, how has LinkedIn worked out that I might know these people? (I can't even see their profiles without signing into my non-existent LinkedIn!)

One I worked with for one year twenty-five years ago and there's no way she has my email address because I didn't have an email address back then. The other is the father of an ex-classmate of one of my kids; he's a nice enough guy and I bump into him now and then in the supermarket, but given that I hate his wife's guts I can't see any way he's got hold of my email address. I don't have their email addresses on my computer. I've never google-searched either of them; I've never looked up their Twitter accounts (if they even have them) or their LiveJournals (ditto). I don't have a FaceBook account. My only online presence in my real name is a Twitter account with one follower and thirty tweets.

So out of all the millions of profiles in the world, how the fuck has LinkedIn picked out two of the relatively few people that I actually know in real life?

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From:snailbones
Date:October 15th, 2014 06:31 am (UTC)
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I've noticed something similar with LinkedIn, where it's taken my professional entry which is not under my real name, but a name and address and email I use purely for business, and managed to pick out people that I do know in RL, but don't communicate with in any way... Two of them are people I actively avoid contact with. The only way I can think it's made the connection is from my Google searches. Which is worrying.
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From:dorsetgirl
Date:October 15th, 2014 07:07 am (UTC)
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You're right, that is worrying. I've been googling the concept this morning (oh god...) and I found this:

"Today I received proof that LinkedIn is harvesting members' Google searches. LinkedIn suggested the name of the youth minister at the church I attended in the late '70s AND some random man with a nearly identical name. I had Googled both name spellings recently when I was curious where my old minister had ended up. The Google search is the only way LinkedIn could have made these suggestions. I took a screenshot."

I also found this explanation of how it works. I think google search is a more likely culprit - I suppose it's not beyond imagining that my two suggestees might have googled me - but it doesn't actually explain how LinkedIn got my email address when there is no legitimate way either of them could have it.

I've often suggested to my kids that they should get a LinkedIn account as soon as they leave school, but I'm now going to say to them as well that they should keep it strictly professional and always log off before doing anything else on the computer. Their future employers will be looking at it, and no way do they need their Minecraft and YouTube contacts and god knows what popping up there!
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From:snailbones
Date:October 15th, 2014 02:46 pm (UTC)
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Thank you so much for the link - while I find it creepy as hell, at least I know it's happening now. I've always found Facebook scary as hell and I've refused to ever have an account; now I'm going to destroy as much as I can of my LinkedIn account... or possibly do really bizarre random Google searches to confuse the infernal thing!

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From:dorsetgirl
Date:October 15th, 2014 06:36 pm (UTC)
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My googling came up with a lot of people complaining about how LinkedIn harvests everything it can find on their computers and lies about it, as well as tracking every website you go to while you're logged on to LinkedIn. I've never felt the need for an account myself, and I'm now thinking of advising my kids not to bother (they haven't got accounts yet because hey, grown-up jobstuffs) and wait for the next "professional" thing to come along.
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