Is LinkedIn Trustworthy?

I spend less time and energy with LinkedIn than I do with any other popular social network. I just can’t trust those guys. Trust is the belief that you can predict another person’s behavior with an acceptable degree of confidence, and I have no confidence that I can predict what mischief the LinkedIn folks will get up to next. Here’s why…

LinkedIn Wants a Connection… With Your Wallet

The latest distasteful surprise came when I received a routine notice that one of my Connections recently started a new job and LinkedIn invited me to congratulate him. I clicked a link to do so and whammo – LinkedIn told me I can no longer message my long-established Connection unless I fork over some cash!
My initial reaction was, “Cancel my LinkedIn account.” Then I figured those notices are handy and I can always text my associate for free. But LinkedIn is on very thin ice with me and I may delete my account the next time it pulls a stunt like this one, or any of these:
“Here are people you may know… but you can’t send them invitations to connect except through InMail” which costs $29.95 per MONTH and doesn’t even support file attachments!
Can You Trust LinkedIn?
“So-and-so is now connected to you” even though I never invited a connection or received an invitation from him. Apparently, LinkedIn just hooks me up with random strangers it thinks would be good for me.
“So-and-so has endorsed your skill” even though we’ve never done any of that kind work together or I don’t need some stranger to tell me that I know “online marketing,” “SEO,” or any other “skill” that LinkedIn picked out of my profile. I may not even have the skill for which I’m endorsed!
Even worse, LinkedIn sometimes asks for your email password, in order to “congratulate a friend on their new job” or to access your address book, so it can send all your contacts an invitation to join LinkedIn.

Is LinkedIn Useful?

LinkedIn fails as a social networking platform because it is tightly controlled by faceless LinkedIn staffers. All it’s really good for is generating pages on which LinkedIn can sell ads. When someone endorses you, other people see that he has done so, and the ad that LinkedIn attached to that “notice of endorsement.” You are the product, not the customer, on LinkedIn.
That’s true of Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, and other social media sites, too, but they’re not so crude, high-handed, and devious about it. They also don’t make you pay, just to communicate with people you already know. I’d rather deal with a door-to-door window replacement sales rep than LinkedIn. That’s because they can’t pretend to have something that LinkedIn purports to offer.
Jobs, employees, and other profitable business relationships are LinkedIn’s “unique value proposition,” the benefit it claims to provide better than anyone else. But it’s a claim that is difficult to verify, and what has been verified does not support the claim.
Employers credit with only 1.3 per cent of all hires;, another major “pure play” employment marketplace, accounts for only 1.2 per cent of hires, according to surveys by employment industry watchdog CareerXroads. LinkedIn isn’t even tracked as an employment marketplace, so its impact on new hires can’t be terribly significant.
Yet LinkedIn charges employers $3,950 for a bundle of ten job listings. People who apply for such jobs by clicking a button and uploading their resumes are instantly told that only $29.95 per month will get their applications pushed to the top of the heap, ahead of possibly better-qualified applicants. When better to hit someone up for money than when he’s feeling anxious?
Consider this scam from the employer’s side. You want to see the best-qualified applicants first, but instead you’re getting applicants who have paid to be seen first no matter what their qualifications are. Yes, LinkedIn tags such applicants so you know they’ve paid to be seen first, calling this scarlet letter “transparency.” How does it affect your impression of that desperate candidate? Oh, and dear Desperate Candidate: how does it feel to pay to be labeled “desperate?”
LinkedIn has explicitly said that it wants to control more of members’ communications, including those that occur outside of LinkedIn. In October, 2013, the company introduced an iPhone app called “Intro” that ignited a firestorm of criticism from security experts. Intro sends your email to LinkedIn, where your public LinkedIn profile info is added to your message before it is forwarded Yahoo, Gmail, and other email service providers for delivery.
Let me repeat that: your email is diverted through a third party’s servers and manipulated! Of course, LinkedIn swears it’s all encrypted and the company never scans the content of your email. But the mere addition of a superfluous hop increases the potential for a disastrous security breach. In October, 2012, LinkedIn’s servers were hacked and the encrypted log-in credentials of over 6 million members were stolen.
Another fun thing: once you have installed Intro you cannot pick and choose which of your outgoing emails get your LinkedIn profile attached. If you want this free app you must consent to make all of your emails advertisements for LinkedIn.
Upon reflection, I’ve decided that I can trust LinkedIn after all: to do whatever is in its corporate interests with no regard for how it misleads, inconveniences, annoys, or embarrasses me.
Your thoughts on this topic are welcome. Post your comment or question below…

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  1. I bailed on LinkedIn a number of months ago. In the few years I was on there, absolutely nothing worthwhile came of it. Useless. If this is an example of the future of social media, count me out.

  2. I’m glad that I don’t use LinkedIn. I never liked that I had to pay in order to “become a member”, like I was joining a private country club.
    Monster, CareerBuilder, Indeed and the other online job posting sites out there, might be a waste of time, as far as finding a job, but I still use them, because they are free.

  3. Before I retired I avoided Linkedin because of a gut feeling. After reading this article I know my gut was right.
    Great article, thanks Bob.

  4. Thank you Bob (again).
    I now know why foreign nationals, who would never have a post published here where, ‘spelling, punctuation, grammar and proper use of UPPER/lower case are important’ have been inviting me to join them on linkedin.
    Have you been able to find out if the deceased relative is theirs or of someone in linkedin?
    As I am not a senior business executive, trustworthy enough to be a conduit for their $millions, I have never responded.
    They seem very trusting people and should really be more careful with their relatives money.
    P.S. My American wife insists that most Americans do not understand British humour…….

  5. Billy Ross says

    Hi Bob,
    I am a member of Linkedin. Only because my interests are to do with writing/songwriting etc. I am therefore able to pick up some tips and information that are of some value to me.
    I do not contribute to a paid membership, which doesn’t detract from me receiving information or connecting with the people I want to connect with.
    It is a bit tiresome receiving emails from Linkedin regarding posts made by others on the various pages I use. I also receive emails from them informing me that specifically mentioned companies in NZ where I live, are looking for people “with your qualifications, now.”
    This is amusing rather than annoying, as I doubt that any NZ company is looking for 71 year old guys.
    I do however feel like leaving Linkedin, because like many social networking sites, most members don’t really want to engage in meaningful collaboration, and seem happy to simply slap each other on the back, and build up their connections. For what purpose?
    I think I have more worthwhile pursuits to take up my time.

  6. MmeMoxie says

    Bob … I am inclined to agree, with most of these individuals … LinkedIn is useless, in my book. I signed up, years ago, when it first started … Couldn’t really understand, what the whole “service” was really about. It has only been in the past 12 to 18 months, that I have been getting some really “strange” notices, of people I don’t know and who have absolutely nothing in common, with me. These individuals are not even connected with my friends! Really strange. Just about as strange, as Facebook has been getting lately!
    I will be completely deleting my LinkedIn account. For me, it was a total waste of time and energy.

  7. Thanks Bob,
    Now I’m begining to really appreciate your Rankin File for it’s unbiased and factual info.

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