Today I deleted my LinkedIn account

8 June, 2011 - 15:42
Samantha Marx has left the LinkedIn building

I think we're all reaching saturation point on the social network front. Most of us are by now signed up to more of the things than what we can feasibly manage and gain value from and lately I've felt like it's time to start paring them down to the ones that are of real use to me.

For a while now I've been questioning LinkedIn's value. I had a Twitter debate with friends and the only person who insisted that it was a good idea to maintain an account was Boris:

Boris says Keep Your LinkedIn!

It can be challenging to debate on Twitter with its 140 character limitation. "If I don't know you and you're not there, mark against you" - if you don't know me, you probably aren't going to be looking for me on LinkedIn anyway. You're probably going to google me or something relating to me (eg Drupal), not so? Anyway, it wasn't only me - there were other people who felt the same way as I did. I value Boris' opinions highly but this time I had to disagree.

I can't come up with a single reason why I need an account on LinkedIn, and frankly I find the site annoying. It annoys me that after I've accepted someone's contact request via email I then have to then login to the site if I want to do anything else. It annoys me that no matter how many times I login, it does not leave me logged in on my own computer. And most recently it annoyed me that the company added fields into the My Account section where it auto-opted me in to share my information with 3rd parties and affiliates, and subscribe me to emails, without ever letting me know. Facebook has a bad reputation for this stuff but when I looked through LinkedIn's account information the other day I was shocked. It was as bad as anything Facebook has ever done.

But! there is one more very important point that makes me absolutely not trust them. I'm a little ashamed to be admitting this part because it involves me having done something stupid: when I first signed up for LinkedIn a few years back they had this handy "Find your contacts from Gmail!!!" feature. Usually I am so cautious and careful about stuff like this but in a moment of stupidity I decided that it seemed like a good idea and I entered my Gmail username and password for it to auto-discover Gmail contacts of mine that were on LinkedIn. Idiot. Anyway - this was in about 2007 or 2008 I believe. Since that time I have removed all traces of that email that I could find on LinkedIn and changed my login details (on LinkedIn) so that it was using a different email account, yet to this day each time that I have logged into the site it has shown me in my list of "People You May Know" contacts that I did not meet and exchange email correspondence with until much later. One such example is the managing agent for the apartment that Scott and I bought in the middle of last year.

So what is it that am I claiming exactly? I'm claiming that LinkedIn has stored my gmail username and password on its server and without my permission continues to login and access my personal information. The only explanation for how it would know to recommend people like my managing agent to me (people who I am not connected to on ANY social network and have only actually had dealings with via email, and who I've only had dealings with in very recent times) is if it has stored my details and continued to access my email.

Please - someone prove me wrong about this, because I am disturbed. And in the mean time I am really pleased to have shut this account down.


Responses to this post

13 years 6 weeks ago

Nope, they are not storing your details. They have 100M accounts. They can look at the connections of not just you but everyone else, your geographic area, etc. and get pretty darn good at doing network analysis.

Actually, thinking about it some more, if the email address that you use is something that is in that other person's address book, it may use that.

It's a business tool - like having a business card, and a full domain name rather than a @hotmail address. If you don't get value out of it, no problem.

In my new job, I'm using LinkedIn even more heavily. The business world - especially the non-freelance, non-independent parts of it - have embraced LinkedIn pretty heavily.

I won't be looking for YOU on LinkedIn, I'll search in my extended network for "wedding", or "Drupal", or in my local area - that's when you'll come up. If we've been introduced through someone else, I'll see if you have a LinkedIn profile to see if we have anyone else in common that I can ask for a reference. Hard to do from a web page.

But, like all these tools, it might not be for you. That's fine, too :P

13 years 6 weeks ago

"Actually, thinking about it some more, if the email address that you use is something that is in that other person's address book, it may use that."

That was my first thought too. But Sam uses a different email address for each service so they're quite separated and in this instance there's no way that the person in question had her linkedin email address. There's a decent chance that it's to do with related geographic connections though.

Also... why wouldn't they store you data simply because they have 100M users? If they can store data for 100M users they can certainly add another 100 characters of data per user. That's only like an extra 10GB :).

Most of my personal hate for linkedin stems from the fact that I think the experience really sucks in addition to all the spammy emails, and the fact that I've never found it useful business-wise once. Facebook and twitter have been far more useful for connections.

12 years 11 weeks ago

I am getting the same sense from my linkedin suggestions. There is almost no way they could know that I've had contact with some of these people without having accessed my gmail account. I haven't seen anything about this on the web, but I have serious suspicions.

12 years 10 weeks ago

I agree they are up to no good, but I would question the statement that "There is almost no way they could know that I've had contact with some of these people without having accessed my gmail account"

They could access the _other person's_ mail account and have the same irritating and suspiscious behaviour from your perspective...

11 years 40 weeks ago

The first time I came here, less than 10 seconds the display is perfectly open, and the loading is completed less than 20 seconds and to open the article only took about 7 seconds. So I think this is very fast! Incredible! Trying to maintain!

12 years 11 weeks ago

if its anything like Facebook. they ARE accessing your contacts. IN my case on my phone. It's no algorithm. How do I know? quite simply I created a fake FB profile and waited...nothing. The minute I put that email address from the fake profile into my phone, suddenly it shows up as a friend suggestion. Anyhow, why am I talking about FB on here, well because it seems that linked in has the SAME access to my gmail account info as FB does. Either they are both accessing it illegally or someone - google? is selling this information to them. thoughts?

12 years 10 weeks ago

That's really interesting about the email address stuff for Facebook. I highly doubt that our addresses are being sold but I've no doubt that they are pulling information that they shouldn't be.

Boris' point is valid about the corporate application for LinkedIn - there is a definite need for a credible business networking service, but I don't believe LinkedIn is to be trusted.

Not sure what to do about all of this though, other than having deleted my account. It all seems really wrong.

12 years 10 weeks ago

Just saw this and it made me chuckle:!/hipstermermaid/status/201057847495237632

"I've done some embarrassing things for money, but I've never used LinkedIn."

12 years 9 weeks ago

LinkedIn is fishy - I created a fake linkedin account, with a fake email address as a test, and certainly did NOT in any way connect this account to my real account/identity other than using the same IP address. When logged into the "fake" account, suggestions of "people I may know" all came from my real identity personal gmail account. How they accessed these connections is beyond me. All utterly random connections - even people that had once answered my gumtree advert. I may have years ago given my password to Linkedin, but it's been changed many times since and yet very specific gmail connections in my personal account pop up on an unrelated account I created. It's all very fishy.