News Analysis: How @LinkedIn Is Creating A Personal Data Hostage Crisis For Its Users

Published on July 25, 2015 by R "Ray" Wang


Curtailment Of @LinkedIn Downloadable Contacts Breaks Sacred Rules Of Digital Business

LinkedIn Fail


Figure 1. The Obscure Accessing Your Account Data Page

Curtailment Of @LinkedIn Downloadable Contacts Breaks Sacred Rules Of Digital Business

Figure 2. CEO @jeffweiner with Founder @reidhoffman at LinkedIn.

@rwang0 @linkedin @reidhoffman @jeffweiner

Source: Fortune

The actions taken by LinkedIn cut through the heart of customer’s expectations of a reputable brand and one that values the P2P networks created by the collective good of the network.  LinkedIn had damaged its social contract with its users by:

  • Breaking the sacred tenet of trust and transparency.  By not announcing a significant change of features that impact one’s personal data, customers felt that LinkedIn tried to brush this feature change under the table.  The lack of transparency damaged the trusted relationship users  had with their social network.
  • Trampling over personal data rights.  The move to limit access to one’s own data raised the question on data rights and ownership.  Customers thought they had the right to unfettered access to their own content.  Removing the export contacts capability and requiring a hold period was just plain unacceptable, especially given the plethora of options to suck in one’s personal contact information.
  • Forgetting that the customer’s network is the product.  LinkedIn’s management team apparently forgot that the customer is the raw input for the product.   The network would not exist without the collective P2P network.  While the social graph belongs to LinkedIn, the user’s data and the ensuing actions taken with that data is the foundation of the product.

The Bottom Line: Users Should Have Unfettered Access To Their Own Data

The right action for LinkedIn is to publicly apologize and restore the ability to immediately download contacts for all users.  Further, stories from partners about how LinkedIn is cutting off API access reinforce an image that the post-IPO LinkedIn is neither a customer friendly. nor partner friendly organization.

Users should convey their concerns on their social media channels of choice and c @jeffweiner @reidhoffman

Time is of the essence as the longer LinkedIn waits, the more likely customers will mistrust the social network’s intentions.

Some other great POV’s

LinkedIn Is Not Facebook, But It Clearly Wants To Be And It’s Turning Away Users from Theo Priestley

digibyte – Has LinkedIn lobotomized its users? from Dennis Howlett

Your POV.

How do you feel about the way LinkedIn handled the situation to date?  Do you feel that LinkedIn broke your trust? Do you believe that this is their data or is this your data?  Add your comments to the blog or reach me via email: R (at) ConstellationR (dot) com or R (at) SoftwareInsider (dot) org.

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  • Ray, completely agree with your sentiments in terms of users having unfettered access to their own data. The actions here violate the “Digital Customer Experience (DCX) Bill of Rights” which I’ve just proposed via my Computerworld column at In fact, it violates right #8 as follows:

    “8. The right to information, analytics and recommendations. Historical and real-time data and information from the customer’s digital journey should be readily available, instantly accessible and downloadable, yet disposable (where permissible), based on customer preference and needs. Customers should be allowed to interactively analyze their data and provided with recommendations to help them make informed decisions.”

  • Ian – great points. we are seeing LinkedIn rapidly turn into a roach motel. I hope they get better but the good news, is we need alternatives fast and the market senses the shift is coming. R

  • What recently disturbed me most was that I was messaging some folks via Linkedin Groups – and out of the blue, one day about 4 weeks ago, a wacky message came up saying … I can’t remember the error message exactly as it was but something like: “you are no longer authorised to message this contact”. After several attempts to get sense out of Linkedin Support, it finally became clear that Linkedin had universally restricted Linkedin Group Messages to 15 a month (there had previously never been a limit). A totally wacky error message relative to what was actually going on, a restriction imposed without warning, and a support team that didn’t initially know what was going on.

    I’ve been with Linkedin since 2003, and a Premium member for almost as long. I feel that Linkedin are becoming careless as they scale.

    Like most behemoths, they presumably think they are an untouchable monopoly in their field. I hope they wise up!

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