LinkedIn

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LinkedIn Corporation
LinkedIn Logo 2013.svg
LinkedIn homepage.png
LinkedIn homepage
Type of businessSubsidiary
Type of site
Social networking service
Available inMultilingual (24)
FoundedDecember 28, 2002; 17 years ago (2002-12-28)
Mountain View, California, U.S.
Headquarters,
U.S.
Area servedWorldwide
Founder(s)Reid Hoffman
Allen Blue
Konstantin Guericke
Eric Ly
Jean-Luc Vaillant
CEORyan Roslansky
Key people
IndustryInternet
ProductsSlideShare
Employees15,000+ (2019)[3]
ParentMicrosoft Corporation
SubsidiariesLearning
Connectifier
URLwww.linkedin.com
Alexa rankDecrease 63 (June 2020)[4]
AdvertisingGoogle, AdSense
RegistrationRequired
Users706 million members (May 2020)[3]
LaunchedMay 5, 2003; 17 years ago (2003-05-05)
Current statusActive

LinkedIn (/lɪŋktˈɪn/) is an American business and employment-oriented online service that operates via websites and mobile apps. Launched on May 5, 2003,[5] it is mainly used for professional networking, including employers posting jobs and job seekers posting their CVs. As of 2015, most of the company's revenue came from selling access to information about its members to recruiters and sales professionals.[6] Since December 2016 it has been a wholly owned subsidiary of Microsoft. As of May 2020, LinkedIn had 706 million registered members in 150 countries.[3]

LinkedIn allows members (both workers and employers) to create profiles and "connections" to each other in an online social network which may represent real-world professional relationships. Members can invite anyone (whether an existing member or not) to become a "connection".[7]

Company overview[edit]

Former LinkedIn headquarters on Stierlin Court in Mountain View, California

Founded in Mountain View, California, LinkedIn is currently headquartered in San Francisco, California, with 33 global offices in Omaha, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, Washington, D.C., São Paulo, London, Dublin, Amsterdam, Graz, Milan, Paris, Munich, Madrid, Stockholm, Singapore, Hong Kong, China, Japan, Australia, Canada, India and Dubai. In May 2020, the company had around 20,500 employees.[8]

LinkedIn's CEO is Ryan Roslansky. Jeff Weiner, previously CEO of LinkedIn, is now the Executive Chairman. Reid Hoffman, founder of LinkedIn, is Chairman of the Board.[9][10] It is funded by Sequoia Capital, Greylock, Bain Capital Ventures,[11] Bessemer Venture Partners and the European Founders Fund.[12] LinkedIn reached profitability in March 2006.[13] Through January 2011, the company had received a total of $103 million of investment.[14]

The site has an Alexa Internet ranking as the 57th most popular website (May 2020).[4] According to the New York Times, US high school students are now creating LinkedIn profiles to include with their college applications.[15] Based in the United States, the site is, as of 2013, available in 24 languages,[9] including Arabic, Chinese, English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish, Dutch, Swedish, Danish, Romanian, Russian, Turkish, Japanese, Czech, Polish, Korean, Indonesian, Malay, and Tagalog.[16][17] LinkedIn filed for an initial public offering in January 2011 and traded its first shares on May 19, 2011, under the NYSE symbol "LNKD".[18]

History[edit]

Founding to 2010[edit]

The company was founded in December 2002 by Reid Hoffman and founding team members from PayPal and Socialnet.com (Allen Blue, Eric Ly, Jean-Luc Vaillant, Lee Hower, Konstantin Guericke, Stephen Beitzel, David Eves, Ian McNish, Yan Pujante, Chris Saccheri).[19] In late 2003, Sequoia Capital led the Series A investment in the company.[20] In August 2004, LinkedIn reached 1 million users.[21] In March 2006, LinkedIn achieved its first month of profitability.[21] In April 2007, LinkedIn reached 10 million users.[21] In February 2008, LinkedIn launched a mobile version of the site.[22]

In June 2008, Sequoia Capital, Greylock Partners, and other venture capital firms purchased a 5% stake in the company for $53 million, giving the company a post-money valuation of approximately $1 billion.[23] In November 2009, LinkedIn opened its office in Mumbai[24] and soon thereafter in Sydney, as it started its Asia-Pacific team expansion. In 2010, LinkedIn opened an International Headquarters in Dublin, Ireland,[25] received a $20 million investment from Tiger Global Management LLC at a valuation of approximately $2 billion,[26] announced its first acquisition, Mspoke,[27] and improved its 1% premium subscription ratio.[28] In October of that year, Silicon Valley Insider ranked the company No. 10 on its Top 100 List of most valuable startups.[29] By December, the company was valued at $1.575 billion in private markets.[30]

2011 to present[edit]

LinkedIn office building at 222 Second Street in San Francisco (opened in March 2016)
LinkedIn office in Toronto

LinkedIn filed for an initial public offering in January 2011. The company traded its first shares on May 19, 2011, under the NYSE symbol "LNKD", at $45 per share. Shares of LinkedIn rose as much as 171% on their first day of trade on the New York Stock Exchange and closed at $94.25, more than 109% above IPO price. Shortly after the IPO, the site's underlying infrastructure was revised to allow accelerated revision-release cycles.[9] In 2011, LinkedIn earned $154.6 million in advertising revenue alone, surpassing Twitter, which earned $139.5 million.[31] LinkedIn's fourth-quarter 2011 earnings soared because of the company's increase in success in the social media world.[32] By this point, LinkedIn had about 2,100 full-time employees compared to the 500 that it had in 2010.[33]

In April 2014, LinkedIn announced that it had leased 222 Second Street, a 26-story building under construction in San Francisco's SoMa district, to accommodate up to 2,500 of its employees,[34] with the lease covering 10 years.[35] The goal was to join all San Francisco-based staff (1,250 as of January 2016) in one building, bringing sales and marketing employees together with the research and development team.[35] They started to move in in March 2016.[35] In February 2016, following an earnings report, LinkedIn's shares dropped 43.6% within a single day, down to $108.38 per share. LinkedIn lost $10 billion of its market capitalization that day.[36][37]

In 2016, the access to LinkedIn was blocked by Russian authorities beacause the website wasn't compliant with the 2015 national legislation that have made mandatory for social media networks to store citizens' personal data on servers ubicated in Russia.[38]

On June 13, 2016, Microsoft announced that it would acquire LinkedIn for $196 a share, a total value of $26.2 billion and the largest acquisition made by Microsoft to date. The acquisition would be an all-cash, debt-financed transaction. Microsoft would allow LinkedIn to "retain its distinct brand, culture and independence", with Weiner to remain as CEO, who would then report to Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella. Analysts believed Microsoft saw the opportunity to integrate LinkedIn with its Office product suite to help better integrate the professional network system with its products. The deal was completed on December 8, 2016.[39]

In late 2016, LinkedIn announced a planned increase of 200 new positions in its Dublin office, which would bring the total employee count to 1,200.[40]

As of 2017, 94% of B2B marketers use LinkedIn to distribute content.[41]

Soon after LinkedIn's acquisition by Microsoft, on January 19, 2017, LinkedIn's new desktop version was introduced.[42] The new version was meant to make the user experience seamless across mobile and desktop. Some of the changes were made according to the feedback received from the previously launched mobile app. Features that were not heavily used were removed. For example, the contact tagging and filtering features are not supported any more.[43]

Following the launch of the new user interface (UI), some users, complained about the missing features which were there in the older version, slowness, and bugs in it. The issues were faced by both free and premium users, and with both the desktop version and the mobile version of the site.

In 2019, LinkedIn launched globally the feature Open for Business[44] that enables freelancers to be discovered on the platform. LinkedIn Events was launched in the same year.[45]

In June 2020, Jeff Weiner stepped down as CEO and become executive chairman after 11 years in the role. Ryan Roslansky stepped up as CEO from his previous position as the senior vice president of product.[46]

In late July 2020, LinkedIn announced it laid off 960 employees, about 6 percent of total workforce, from the talent acquisition and global sales teams. In an email to all employees, CEO Ryan Roslansky said the cuts were due to effects of the global COVID-19 pandemic.[47]

Acquisitions[edit]

In July 2012, LinkedIn acquired 15 key Digg patents for $4 million including a "click a button to vote up a story" patent.[48]

Number Acquisition date Company Business Country Price Description Ref.
1 August 4, 2010 mspoke Adaptive personalization of content  USA $0.6 million[49] LinkedIn Recommendations [50]
2 September 23, 2010 ChoiceVendor Social B2B Reviews  USA $3.9 million[51] Rate and review B2B service providers [52]
3 January 26, 2011 CardMunch Social Contacts  USA $1.7 million[49] Scan and import business cards [53]
4 October 5, 2011 Connected Social CRM  USA - LinkedIn Connected [54]
5 October 11, 2011 IndexTank Social search  USA - LinkedIn Search [55]
6 February 22, 2012 Rapportive Social Contacts  USA $15 million[56] - [57]
7 May 3, 2012 SlideShare Social Content  USA $119 million Give LinkedIn members a way to discover people through content [58]
8 April 11, 2013 Pulse Web / Mobile newsreader  USA $90 million Definitive professional publishing platform [59]
9 February 6, 2014 Bright.com Job Matching  USA $120 million [60]
10 July 14, 2014 Newsle Web application  USA - Allows users to follow real news about their Facebook friends, LinkedIn contacts, and public figures. [61]
11 July 22, 2014 Bizo Web application  USA $175 million Helps advertisers reach businesses and professionals [62]
12 March 16, 2015 Careerify Web application  Canada - Helps businesses hire people using social media [63]
13 April 2, 2015 Refresh.io Web application  USA - Surfaces insights about people in your networks right before you meet them [64]
14 April 9, 2015 Lynda.com eLearning  USA $1.5 billion Lets users learn business, technology, software, and creative skills through videos [65]
15 August 28, 2015 Fliptop Predictive Sales and Marketing Firm  USA - Using data science to help companies close more sales [66]
16 February 4, 2016 Connectifier Web application  USA - Helps companies with their recruiting [67]
17 July 26, 2016 PointDrive Web application  USA - Lets salespeople share visual content with prospective clients to help seal the deal [68]
18 September 16, 2018 Glint Inc. Web application  USA - Employee engagement platform. [69]
19 May 28, 2019 Drawbridge Marketing Solutions  USA [70]

Perkins Lawsuit[edit]

In 2013, a class action lawsuit entitled Perkins vs. LinkedIn Corp was filed against the company, accusing it of automatically sending invitations to contacts in a member's email address book without permission. The court agreed with LinkedIn that permission had in fact been given for invitations to be sent, but not for the two further reminder emails.[71] LinkedIn settled the lawsuit in 2015 for $13 million.[72] Many members should have received a notice in their email with the subject line "Legal Notice of Settlement of Class Action". The Case No. is 13-CV-04303-LHK.[73]

hiQ Labs v. LinkedIn[edit]

In May 2017, LinkedIn sent a Cease-And-Desist letter to hiQ Labs, a Silicon Valley startup that collects data from public profiles and provides analysis of this data to its customers. The letter demanded that hiQ immediately cease "scraping" data from LinkedIn's servers, claiming violations of the CFAA (Computer Fraud and Abuse Act) and the DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act).

In response, hiQ sued LinkedIn in the Northern District of California in San Francisco, asking the court to prohibit LinkedIn from blocking its access to public profiles while the court considered the merits of its request. The court served a preliminary injunction against LinkedIn, which was then forced to allow hiQ to continue to collect public data. LinkedIn appealed this ruling; in September 2019, the appeals court rejected LinkedIn's arguments and the preliminary injunction was upheld.[74] The dispute is ongoing.

Membership[edit]

Social media websites can also use "traditional" marketing approaches, as seen in these LinkedIn-branded chocolates.

As of 2015, LinkedIn had more than 400 million members in over 200 countries and territories.[9][75] It is significantly ahead of its competitors Viadeo (50 million as of 2013)[76] and XING (11 million as of 2016).[77] In 2011, its membership grew by approximately two new members every second.[78] As of 2020, there are over 690 million LinkedIn members.[3]

Platform and features[edit]

User profile network[edit]

Basic functionality[edit]

The basic functionality of LinkedIn allows users (workers and employers) to create profiles, which for employees typically consist of a curriculum vitae describing their work experience, education and training, skills, and a personal photo. Employers can list jobs and search for potential candidates. Users can find jobs, people and business opportunities recommended by someone in one's contact network. Users can save (i.e. bookmark) jobs that they would like to apply for. Users also have the ability to follow different companies.

The site also enables members to make "connections" to each other in an online social network which may represent real-world professional relationships. Members can invite anyone (whether a site member or not) to become a connection. However, if the invitee selects "I don't know" or "Spam", this counts against the inviter. If the inviter gets too many of such responses, the member's account may be restricted or closed.[7] Users can obtain introductions to the connections of connections (termed second-degree connections) and connections of second-degree connections (termed third-degree connections).

A member's list of connections can be used in a number of ways. For example, users can search for second-degree connections (such as hiring managers) who work at a company they are interested in, and then ask a specific first-degree connection in common for an introduction.[79] The "gated-access approach" (where contact with any professional requires either an existing relationship, or the intervention of a contact of theirs) is intended to build trust among the service's users. LinkedIn participated in the EU's International Safe Harbor Privacy Principles.[80]

Users can interact with each other in a variety of ways:

  • Connections can interact by choosing to "like" posts and "congratulate" others on updates such as birthdays, anniversaries and new positions, as well as by direct messaging.
  • Users can share video with text and filters with the introduction of LinkedIn Video.[81][82]
  • Users can write posts and articles[83] within the LinkedIn platform to share with their network.

Since September 2012, LinkedIn has enabled users to "endorse" each other's skills. However, there is no way of flagging anything other than positive content.[84] LinkedIn solicits endorsements using algorithms that generate skills members might have. Members cannot opt out of such solicitations, with the result that it sometimes appears that a member is soliciting an endorsement for a non-existent skill.[85]

Applications[edit]

LinkedIn 'applications' often refers to external third party applications that interact with LinkedIn's developer API. However, in some cases, it could refer to sanctioned applications featured on a user's profile page.

External, third party applications[edit]

On February 12, 2015, LinkedIn released an updated terms of use for their developer API.[86] The developer API allows both companies and individuals the ability to interact with LinkedIn's data through creation of managed third party applications. Applications must go through a review process and request permission from the user before accessing a user's data.

Normal use of the API is outlined in LinkedIn's developer documents,[87] including:

  • Sign into external services using LinkedIn
  • Add items or attributes to a user profile
  • Share items or articles to user's timeline

Embedded in profile[edit]

In October 2008, LinkedIn enabled an "applications platform" which allows external online services to be embedded within a member's profile page. Among the initial applications were an Amazon Reading List that allows LinkedIn members to display books they are reading, a connection to Tripit, and a Six Apart, WordPress and TypePad application that allows members to display their latest blog postings within their LinkedIn profile.[88] In November 2010, LinkedIn allowed businesses to list products and services on company profile pages; it also permitted LinkedIn members to "recommend" products and services and write reviews.[89] Shortly after, some of the external services were no longer supported, including Amazon's Reading List.[citation needed]

Mobile[edit]

A mobile version of the site was launched in February 2008, which gives access to a reduced feature set over a mobile phone. The mobile service is available in six languages: Chinese, English, French, German, Japanese and Spanish.[90] In January 2011, LinkedIn acquired CardMunch, a mobile app maker that scans business cards and converts into contacts.[91] In June 2013, CardMunch was noted as an available LinkedIn app.[9] In August 2011, LinkedIn revamped its mobile applications on the iPhone, Android and HTML5. At the time, mobile page views of the application were increasing roughly 400% year over year according to CEO Jeff Weiner.[92] In October 2013, LinkedIn announced a service for iPhone users called "Intro", which inserts a thumbnail of a person's LinkedIn profile in correspondence with that person when reading mail messages in the native iOS Mail program.[93] This is accomplished by re-routing all emails from and to the iPhone through LinkedIn servers, which security firm Bishop Fox asserts has serious privacy implications, violates many organizations' security policies, and resembles a man-in-the-middle attack.[94][95]

Groups[edit]

LinkedIn also supports the formation of interest groups, and as of March 29, 2012 there are 1,248,019 such groups whose membership varies from 1 to 744,662.[96][97] Groups support a limited form of discussion area, moderated by the group owners and managers.[98] Groups may be private, accessible to members only or may be open to Internet users in general to read, though they must join in order to post messages. Since groups offer the functionality to reach a wide audience without so easily falling foul of anti-spam solutions, there is a constant stream of spam postings, and there now exists a range of firms who offer a spamming service for this very purpose. LinkedIn has devised a few mechanisms to reduce the volume of spam,[99] but recently[when?] took the decision to remove the ability of group owners to inspect the email address of new members in order to determine if they were spammers.[citation needed] Groups also keep their members informed through emails with updates to the group, including most talked about discussions within your professional circles.[96][100]

In December 2011, LinkedIn announced that they are rolling out polls to groups.[101] In November 2013, LinkedIn announced the addition of Showcase Pages to the platform.[102] In 2014, LinkedIn announced they were going to be removing Product and Services Pages[103] paving the way for a greater focus on Showcase Pages.[104]

Knowledge graph[edit]

LinkedIn maintains an internal knowledge graph of entities (people, organizations, groups) that helps it connect everyone working in a field or at an organization or network. This can be used to query the neighborhood around each entity to find updates that might be related to it.[105] This also lets them train machine learning models that can infer new properties about an entity, or new information that may apply to it, for both summary views and for analytics.[106]

Discontinued features[edit]

In January 2013, LinkedIn dropped support for LinkedIn Answers and cited a new 'focus on development of new and more engaging ways to share and discuss professional topics across LinkedIn' as the reason for the retirement of the feature. The feature had been launched in 2007 and allowed users to post question to their network and allowed users to rank answers.


On September 1, 2014, LinkedIn retired InMaps, a feature which allowed you to visualize your professional network.[107] The feature had been in use since January 2011.

According to the company's website, LinkedIn Referrals will no longer be available after May 18, 2018.[108]

Usage[edit]

Personal branding[edit]

When a user accepts an invitation from another user, they have a first-level connection; the user is indirectly connected to the other user's connections with what LinkedIn terms second-level and third-level connections.

LinkedIn is particularly well-suited for personal branding which, according to Sandra Long, entails "actively managing one's image and unique value" to position oneself for career opportunities.[109] LinkedIn has evolved from being a mere platform for job searchers into a social network which allows users a chance to create a personal brand.[110] Career coach Pamela Green describes a personal brand as the "emotional experience you want people to have as a result of interacting with you," and a LinkedIn profile is an aspect of that.[111] A contrasting report suggests that a personal brand is a "a public-facing persona, exhibited on LinkedIn, Twitter and other networks, that showcases expertise and fosters new connections."[112]

LinkedIn allows professionals to build exposure for their personal brand within the site itself as well as in the World Wide Web as a whole. With a tool that LinkedIn dubs a Profile Strength Meter, the site encourages users to offer enough information in their profile to optimize visibility by search engines. It can strengthen a user's LinkedIn presence if he or she belongs to professional groups in the site.[113][109] The site enables users to add video to their profiles.[114] Some users hire a professional photographer for one's profile photo.[115] Video presentations can be added to one's profile.[116] LinkedIn's capabilities have been expanding so rapidly that a cottage industry of outside consultants has grown up to help users navigate the system.[117][114][118] A particular emphasis is helping users with their LinkedIn profiles.[117]

There’s no hiding in the long grass on LinkedIn ... The number one mistake people make on the profile is to not have a photo.

— Sandra Long of Post Road Consulting, 2017[119]

In October 2012, LinkedIn launched the LinkedIn Influencers program, which features global thought leaders who share their professional insights with LinkedIn's members. As of May 2016, there are 750+ Influencers, approximately 74% of which are male.[120] The program is invite-only and features leaders from a range of industries including Richard Branson, Narendra Modi, Arianna Huffington, Greg McKeown, Rahm Emanuel, Jamie Dimon, Martha Stewart, Deepak Chopra, Jack Welch, and Bill Gates.[121][122]

Job Seeking[edit]

LinkedIn is widely used by job seekers and employers. According to Jack Meyer, the site has become the "premier digital platform" for professionals to network online.[113] For example, in Australia, which has approximately twelve million working professionals, ten million of them are on LinkedIn, according to Anastasia Santoreneos, suggesting that the probability was high that one's "future employer is probably on the site."[123] According to one estimate based on worldwide figures, 122 million users got job interviews via LinkedIn and 35 million were hired by a LinkedIn online connection.[124]

LinkedIn allows users to research companies, non-profit organizations, and governments they may be interested in working for. Typing the name of a company or organization in the search box causes pop-up data about the company or organization to appear. Such data may include the ratio of female to male employees, the percentage of the most common titles/positions held within the company, the location of the company's headquarters and offices, and a list of present and former employees. In July 2011, LinkedIn launched a new feature allowing companies to include an "Apply with LinkedIn" button on job listing pages.[125] The new plugin allowed potential employees to apply for positions using their LinkedIn profiles as resumes.[125] Recruiters also often join industry-based groups on LinkedIn to create connections with professionals in that line of business.[126]

Not only helping job applicants meet employers, LinkedIn can help small businesses connect with customers.[127] Connections are important in boosting a user's standing and presence in LinkedIn. In the site's parlance, two users have a "first-degree connection" when one accepts an invitation from another.[124] People connected to each of them are "second-degree connections" and persons connected to the second-degree connections are "third-degree connections."[124] This forms a user's internal LinkedIn network. As these connections get stronger and deeper, the user's profile is more likely to appear in searches by employers and others.

LinkedIn's Profinder is a marketplace where freelancers can (for a monthly subscription fee) bid for project proposals submitted by individuals and small businesses .[128] In 2017, it had around 60,000 freelancers in more than 140 service areas, such as headshot photography, bookkeeping or tax filing.[128]

The premise for connecting with someone has shifted significantly in recent years. Prior to the 2017 new interface being launched, LinkedIn encouraged connections between people who'd already worked together, studied together, done business together or the like. Since 2017 that step has been removed from the connection request process - and users are allowed to connect with up to 30,000 people. This change means LinkedIn is now far more of a proactive networking site, be that for job applicants trying to secure a career move or for salespeople wanting to generate new client leads.[109]

Top Companies[edit]

LinkedIn Top Companies is a series of lists published by LinkedIn, identifying companies in the United States, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Japan, Mexico and the United Kingdom that are attracting the most intense interest from job candidates. The 2019 lists identified Google's parent company, Alphabet, as the most sought-after U.S. company, with Facebook ranked second and Amazon ranked third.[129] The lists are based on more than one billion actions by LinkedIn members worldwide. The Top Companies lists were started in 2016 and are published annually.

Advertising and for-pay research[edit]

In mid-2008, LinkedIn launched LinkedIn DirectAds as a form of sponsored advertising.[130] In October 2008, LinkedIn revealed plans to open its social network of 30 million professionals globally as a potential sample for business-to-business research. It is testing a potential social network revenue model – research that to some appears more promising than advertising.[131] On July 23, 2013, LinkedIn announced their Sponsored Updates ad service. Individuals and companies can now pay a fee to have LinkedIn sponsor their content and spread it to their user base. This is a common way for social media sites such as LinkedIn to generate revenue.[132]

Publishing platform[edit]

On May 7, 2015, LinkedIn added an analytics tool to its publishing platform. The tool allows authors to better track traffic that their posts receive.[133]

Future plans[edit]

Economic graph[edit]

Inspired by Facebook's "social graph", LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner set a goal in 2012 to create an "economic graph" within a decade.[134] The goal is to create a comprehensive digital map of the world economy and the connections within it.[135] The economic graph was to be built on the company's current platform with data nodes including companies, jobs, skills, volunteer opportunities, educational institutions, and content.[136][137][138] They have been hoping to include all the job listings in the world, all the skills required to get those jobs, all the professionals who could fill them, and all the companies (nonprofit and for-profit) at which they work.[136] The ultimate goal is to make the world economy and job market more efficient through increased transparency.[134] In June 2014, the company announced its "Galene" search architecture to give users access to the economic graph's data with more thorough filtering of data, via user searches like "Engineers with Hadoop experience in Brazil."[139][140]

LinkedIn has used economic graph data to research several topics on the job market, including popular destination cities of recent college graduates,[141] areas with high concentrations of technology skills,[142] and common career transitions.[143] LinkedIn provided the City of New York with data from economic graph showing "in-demand" tech skills for the city's "Tech Talent Pipeline" project.[144]

Reception[edit]

LinkedIn has been described by online trade publication TechRepublic as having "become the de facto tool for professional networking".[145] LinkedIn has also been praised for its usefulness in fostering business relationships.[146] "LinkedIn is, far and away, the most advantageous social networking tool available to job seekers and business professionals today," according to Forbes.[147] LinkedIn has inspired the creation of specialised professional networking opportunities, such as co-founder Eddie Lou's Chicago startup, Shiftgig (released in 2012 as a platform for hourly workers).[148]

Criticism and controversies[edit]

LinkedIn has received criticism, primarily regarding e-mail address mining and auto-update. Changing the description below a member's name is seen as a change in a job title, even if it is just a wording change or even a change to "unemployed". Unless a member opts to "turn off activity updates", an update is sent to all of that person's contacts, telling them to congratulate the member on the "new job".[149]

The feature that allows LinkedIn members to "endorse" each other's skills and experience has been criticized as meaningless, since the endorsements are not necessarily accurate or given by people who have familiarity with the member's skills.[150] In October 2016, LinkedIn acknowledged that it "really does matter who endorsed you" and began highlighting endorsements from "coworkers and other mutual connections" to address the criticism.[151]

Use of e-mail accounts of members for spam sending[edit]

LinkedIn sends "invite emails" to Outlook contacts from its members' email accounts, without obtaining their consent. The "invitations" give the impression that the e-mail holder themself has sent the invitation. If there is no response, the answer will be repeated several times ("You have not yet answered XY's invitation.") LinkedIn was sued in the United States on charges of hijacking e-mail accounts and spamming. The company argued with the right to freedom of expression. In addition, the users concerned would be supported in building a network.[152][153][154]

The sign-up process includes a step for users to enter their email password (there is an opt-out feature). LinkedIn will then offer to send out contact invitations to all members in that address book or that the user has had email conversations with. When the member's email address book is opened it is opened with all email addresses selected and the member is advised invitations will be sent to "selected" email addresses, or to all. LinkedIn was sued for sending out another two follow-up invitations to each contact from members to link to friends who had ignored the initial, authorized, invitation.

In November 2014, LinkedIn lost a motion to dismiss the lawsuit, in a ruling that the invitations were advertisements not broadly protected by free speech rights that would otherwise permit use of people's names and images without authorization.[155][156][157] The lawsuit was eventually settled in 2015 in favor of LinkedIn members.[72]

Security and technology[edit]

In June 2012, cryptographic hashes of approximately 6.4 million LinkedIn user passwords were stolen by Yevgeniy Nikulin and other hackers who then published the stolen hashes online.[158] This action is known as the 2012 LinkedIn hack. In response to the incident, LinkedIn asked its users to change their passwords. Security experts criticized LinkedIn for not salting their password file and for using a single iteration of SHA-1.[159] On May 31, 2013 LinkedIn added two-factor authentication, an important security enhancement for preventing hackers from gaining access to accounts.[160] In May 2016, 117 million LinkedIn usernames and passwords were offered for sale online for the equivalent of $2,200.[161] These account details are believed to be sourced from the original 2012 LinkedIn hack, in which the number of user IDs stolen had been underestimated. To handle the large volume of emails sent to its users every day with notifications for messages, profile views, important happenings in their network, and other things, LinkedIn uses the Momentum email platform from Message Systems.[162]

In 2014, Dell SecureWorks Counter Threat Unit (CTU) discovered that Threat Group-2889, an Iran-based group, created 25 fake LinkedIn accounts. The accounts were either fully developed personas or supporting personas, and they use spearphishing or malicious websites to comprise victims' information.[163][third-party source needed]

According to reporting by Le Figaro, France's General Directorate for Internal Security and Directorate-General for External Security believe that Chinese spies have used LinkedIn to target thousands of business and government officials as potential sources of information.[164]

In 2017, Germany's Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV) published information alleging that Chinese intelligence services had created fake social media profiles on sites such as LinkedIn, using them to gather information on German politicians and government officials.[165][166]

Moving emails to LinkedIn servers[edit]

At the end of 2013, it was announced that the LinkedIn app intercepted users' emails and silently moved them to LinkedIn servers for full access.[167] LinkedIn used man-in-the-middle attacks.[168]

Privacy policy[edit]

The German Stiftung Warentest has criticized that the balance of rights between users and LinkedIn is disproportionate, restricting users' rights excessively while granting the company far-reaching rights.[169] It has also been claimed that LinkedIn does not respond to consumer protection center requests.[170]

In November 2016, Russia announced its intention to block the network in its own country, as it "illegally stores data of Russian users on servers abroad." The relevant law had been in force there since 2014.[171][172]

Potential 2018 breach, or extended impacts from earlier incidents[edit]

In July 2018, Credit Wise reported "dark web" email and password exposures from LinkedIn. Shortly thereafter, users began receiving extortion emails, using that information as "evidence" that users' contacts had been hacked, and threatening to expose pornographic videos featuring the users. LinkedIn asserts that this is related to the 2012 breach; however, there is no evidence that this is the case.[173]

International restrictions[edit]

In 2009, Syrian users reported that LinkedIn server stopped accepting connections originating from IP addresses assigned to Syria. The company's customer support stated that services provided by them are subject to US export and re-export control laws and regulations and "As such, and as a matter of corporate policy, we do not allow member accounts or access to our site from Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Sudan, or Syria."[174]

In February 2011, it was reported that LinkedIn was being blocked in China after calls for a "Jasmine Revolution". It was speculated to have been blocked because it is an easy way for dissidents to access Twitter, which had been blocked previously.[175] After a day of being blocked, LinkedIn access was restored in China.[176]

In February 2014, LinkedIn launched its Simplified Chinese language version named "" (pinyin: Lǐngyīng; lit.: 'leading elite'), officially extending their service in China.[177][178] LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner acknowledged in a blog post that they would have to censor some of the content that users post on its website in order to comply with Chinese rules, but he also said the benefits of providing its online service to people in China outweighed those concerns.[177][179] Since Autumn 2017 job postings from western countries for China aren't possible anymore.[180]

On 4 August 2016, a Moscow court ruled that LinkedIn must be blocked in Russia for violating a new data retention law, which requires the user data of Russian citizens to be stored on servers within the country. This ban was upheld on 10 November 2016, and all Russian ISPs began blocking LinkedIn thereafter. LinkedIn's mobile app was also banned from Google Play Store and iOS App Store in Russia in January 2017.[181][182]

SNA LinkedIn[edit]

The Search, Network, and Analytics (SNA) team at LinkedIn has a website[183] that hosts the open source projects built by the group. Notable among these projects is Project Voldemort,[184] a distributed key-value structured storage system with low-latency similar in purpose to Amazon.com's Dynamo and Google's Bigtable.

Surveillance and NSA program[edit]

In the 2013 global surveillance disclosures, documents released by Edward Snowden revealed that British Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) (an intelligence and security organisation) infiltrated the Belgian telecommunications network Belgacom by luring employees to a false LinkedIn page.[185]

Science[edit]

Massive amounts of data from LinkedIn allow scientists and machine learning researchers to extract insights and build product features.[186] For example, this data can help to shape patterns of deception in resumes.[187] Another example shows how signals from LinkedIn can be used to assess the quality of Wikipedia articles and their sources.[188]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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