Are Your Contacts Being Careless With Your LinkedIN Information?

Jǝffery A Thomas
Sep 13, 2016 · 3 min read

The emails are mostly all the same…

Hi Jeffery A.,

It’s ______ from (Company) in (Location). I’d like to refer customers to you, so I’ve added you to my network on (Business networking site), a free site for exchanging customer referrals, recommendations and gaining business insights from local business owners.

Simply click the link below to add me to your network. But you are free to accept or decline this invitation. Thanks!

Accept My Invitation


Some contact of mine has allowed one of these “business referral networks” to suck up their contacts in the naive hope that somehow they will earn a referral percentage of revenue generated from indiscriminately sharing all their LinkedIN or worse Facebook data with this site.

Inevitably, I think less of that person and have a harder time taking them seriously. I can’t help it. I am fairly conscious about sharing my network data with sites that are well known and here this person is sharing my contact information with a company they have likely only just learned of through a similar referral.

I find sites like this less than useless. To me at least, this activity is very much like trying to paint a house by blindfolding yourself and throwing buckets of paint in the direction you think the house is.

This invite was from a site called Alignable who were only established in 2012, but there are many others. Alignable seem to be more legit than most of the others and to some I will concede they may provide some value to some people.

Now the invite does say they are a “free site” but if a social network or website isn’t charging you anything you then YOU are the product. Your information in some form is likely being collected and sold.

Which brings up several questions…

  1. If my information is provided by one of my contacts to one of these sites through the sharing/import of LinkedIN, Facebook, Google, or Twitter information how do I prevent them from selling that information?
    Short answer: You can’t stop it as long as you are a member of any of these networks.
  2. If I haven’t signed up or agreed to the use of my information what are my rights?
    No idea. I am not a lawyer.
    However, Information is only in the public domain if it is realistically accessible to a member of the general public at the time of the request. If you have a Linkedin Profile that certainly qualifies for the name but I wonder about the email address.
    Even the act of unsubscribing from the email they send just confirms your identity which can be used for data mining purposes.
  3. What is the responsibility of these social networks to prevent this information from being shared in the first place?
    As users we’ve pretty much agreed to the data use and privacy policies of these companies so there is not much that can or will be done until someone or some organization challenges it in some way.
  4. Are these companies even CanSpam compliant?
    Most seem to have unsubscribe links but I did get a suspicious increase in spam after “being invited” into one of these networks.

Now I don’t think any of my contacts who have shared my information in this way are ill intended but they are certainly careless and don’t take the security of their information seriously

Einstein wrote “In matters of truth and justice, there is no difference between large and small problems, for issues concerning the treatment of people are all the same. Anyone who doesn’t take truth seriously in small matters cannot be trusted in large ones either.”

Perhaps the same applies to small exchanges of information.

Jǝffery A Thomas

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Just random Thoughts that don’t fit on twitter.

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