LinkedIn’s Secret Security Breach

Written by: Charlotte Droney

The Data Protection Commissioner (DPC) of Ireland conducted an audit into LinkedIn’s processing of personal data and discovered they used a hashed form of user email addresses to use for targeted Facebook ads. 18 million user emails to be exact. And we bet you had no idea.

What’s going on?

When Facebook has a data breach, everyone knows. So how did LinkedIn slide under the radar? They implemented their security changes over the Thanksgiving holiday, with no official announcement. The changes could be a big loss for anyone using the platform to connect initially, but want to talk more outside of LinkedIn. How you ask? The new default setting blocks users from exporting connection’s email addresses.

What does this mean for users?

Personally, you may be happy about this, but professionally, you should be mad. Why would a professional social network hinder your ability to contact your connections outside of LinkedIn? They want to lock you into their platform for communication via their direct messages.

Data security is very important and should be something social networks are on top of at all times. For example, Facebook had a similar issue in 2010. Facebook argued users should not be able to export their friends’ email addresses. Their argument was that users owned their own email address but not their friends’. And let’s be real, Facebook has had a lot of other data breaches and scandals , but this is a blog about LinkedIn. Back to the point- Facebook is a SOCIAL network so exporting emails isn’t necessary and actually discouraged.

LinkedIn is a PROFESSIONAL network. People are making connections with strangers in hopes to network and make meaningful business relationships on and off LinkedIn. People pay for services like Sales Navigator to foster these connections. Also, let’s not forget that since the start of LinkedIn you have been able to export this information, and no one was upset. It has been critical for many business professionals.

Slice Team’s thoughts…

So why did LinkedIn feel the need to make this change in such a secret fashion? We have many theories on that but the fact that they tried to hide a change that impacts businesses that rely on LinkedIn breaks the trust of their core users.

As an agency, we believe in transparency and think other companies succeed when they are transparent with their customers/user base. Next time, we recommend LinkedIn issue an honest statement about the data security breach and how they plan on protecting information in the future.

*If you want to find where to change your settings so people can continue to make meaningful professional connections with you outside of LinkedIn, click here.  

Go to “Who Can See My Email Address” -> “Allow your connections to download your email in their data export?” -> Select “Yes”.

And yes, it took us a while to find it hidden deep in the help page, too.

How can Slice help?

With constant changes like this, it is more important than ever to engage with agencies like Slice. We can help you make sure your social media, email marketing, and media efforts are optimized. Our experts stay up-to-date with all the trends and changes. With LinkedIn experience and beyond, let us help you. Contact us to chat more.