Archive for the ‘privacy’ Category

So does Linkedin steal e-mail addresses after all?

September 26, 2013

LinkedinLet’s face it: ever since the PRISM scandal came to light, a confuse feeling of distrust has prevailed regarding US-based social networks. This includes Linkedin, even though it was not mentioned in Edward Snowden’s leaks as being part of the PRISM surveillance program.

No wonder then that lawsuits and petitions against those firms are gaining momentum. The latest one specifically regards Linkedin and takes the form of a class action taken by four American users, as Bloomberg revealed last Sunday.  They claim that Linkedin “appropriated their identities for marketing purposes by hacking into their external e-mail accounts and downloading contacts’ addresses.”

This case rang a bell as I experienced myself suspicion regarding Linkedin’s “People you may know” feature… no longer than last Saturday! On September 21, I was indeed puzzled by an e-mail received by Linkedin saying:

“Your contact, X.Y, just joined LinkedIn”

I just couldn’t understand how on earth Linkedin knew X.Y. was an acquaintance of mine. Indeed, Mr Y has 0 connection on Linkedin. His all but complete profile does not show any similarity with mine except that we both work in Paris, France, and are self-employed.

The only reason I could think of why Mr Y might have appeared as a potential connection is that, at a given time, I may have granted access to Linkedin to my Gmail address book. I am not 100% sure of it, but this possibility is all the more likely that in my Linkedin settings, I do have a series of “imported contacts”. For the record, “imported contacts” are contacts a member has imported from an external source (e.g. Gmail address book) and that are not yet Linkedin connections.

So I checked my imported contacts and, to my surprise, I noticed that Mr Y was not one of them.

So the question was remaining: why did Linkedin suggested me Mr Y? Even if I did import my Gmail contacts at a given time, he  was obviously not a contact of mine at that time.

So I wrote to Linkedin support and received their answer the following day:

“Hi Jerome,
Thanks for contacting me.  I apologize for the delayed response.  Jerome, with our ‘People You May Know’ feature the contact does not have to be an imported contact.  If the contact has you in their address book that they imported, you can also receive this message that he/she joined LinkedIn.
I looked into your account and he is not one of your contacts yet.  We are making you aware that he has joined the network and you can request him to join your network.
Thanks for being a LinkedIn member since 2004.
Regards,R.
Customer Experience Advocate”
So maybe Linkedin suggested me Mr Y because I was in his address book. To be sure, I called Mr Y. And here is what he told me: “I have joined Linkedin just a few days ago. I remember that I refused to import my Gmail address book when they asked me to.”
So Linkedin support’s answer does not solve the issue. I still don’t know how they could make a link between Mr Y and myself.
As far as I am concerned, I think there is something fishy, here.
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