The LinkedIncident

I don’t know how many of you are LinkedIn users, but I’m already building my (online) network. LinkedIn is a professional network, which the site also propagandize, so I automatically -and maybe a bit naive- assume the site is reliable and will not use my information for the wrong purpose. With this in mind, a news post on my App drew my eye. I normally don’t look at NUtech (NU technology) but the header said:  ‘LinkedIn hackt e-mailaccounts en steelt contactenlijsten‘. (English: LinkedIn hacks email accounts and steals contact lists)

An abstract: some LinkedIn users are accusing the social network site of using their email addresses and their contact list to send spam emails. The network can download the addresses without the permission of the user. This is, according to the users, an invasion of privacy. The network uses the addresses to send so called endorsement mails: the receiver can give the LinkedIn member specific skills, but he or she has to have an account to do this. The users think that LinkedIn uses their mail addresses to increase the number of members.

According to LinkedIn, the site isn’t doing anything illegal and this action isn’t in contradiction with the privacy statement of the network. But the post sure did raise my concerns. If a professional website like LinkedIn is doing this, what will other -less credible- sites do?

I think the story is another wake-up call to always think about what information you put on the internet and where you put it. I will definitely use LinkedIn in the future, but I do wonder how other people think about the LinkedIn incident. Will you from now on read the whole privacy statement, just to make sure? Is the issue (for the non-members) a reason not to join LinkedIn? Or is the whole incident just another dull story?

For the people who don’t know LinkedIn, here is a short video:

The article (in Dutch):


2 thoughts on “The LinkedIncident

  1. I also read the article on and after reading your blog I went immediately to my LinkedIn page, just being reminded by the fact I had to update it a little. When I was on the website there was a banner which said:
    “On 12th of September 2013, we have published a revised version of our privacy policy and our user agreement. By continuing to make use of LinkedIn, u agree with these revised documents. Take some time to read these two. Visit the LinkedIn-blog if you want to know what these changes will mean for you.”
    So after reading your blog, I thought well lets read all of them to make sure everything is OK. There was nothing looking unusual to me but hacking part does not really comfort me. I think as you already said, LinkedIn is a professional network site which has to be this way. By doing these kind of things they will not look professional anymore. So if it’s true what some LinkedIn user say, it’s a bad thing for the LinkedIn brand.
    Also I want to add something I read in the LinkedIn-blog. They update their agreements an privacy policy in a way children of 13 years and older are also admitted to the network site. By doing this I think it is for LinkedIn really necessary to use user-info very carefully, especially when it involves children who are inexperienced and will probably post also nonsense and sensitive information on it.

  2. I only saw the changes on the LInkedIn site and I haven’t seen any news about the hack online but my reaction to “incidents” like that one, no matter what are always the same – What did you expect? If you are aware how the internet works, then you know that whatever information you put there – it is going to stay there, forever. And information is money, in these cases A LOT of money.
    In addition, you said yourself, that even though they did something wrong, you will still use LinkedIn, so will I. In a way, it doesn’t really matter what they do unless they put online drunk pictures of someone, I guess.
    I mean, it does concern the privacy of people, but I think it depends on your mind set. I am aware that everything I have online is there and everything is connected and it just doesn’t bother me because I just expect it. It’s not right, of course, but this is how it has been since the internet and so I see it as a norm in a way. You have some socially accepted norms that some people do not agree with but they have to follow them. For me it’s a norm, that your information is not safe, and that’s why I don’t have a problem when an “incident” happens.

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