Why LinkedIn is a Malicious Mobile App

I was completely caught off guard while working on my laptop computer when LinkedIn displayed a list of my email contacts and innocently prompted me:

“We found 424 people you know on LinkedIn when you added your address book. Select the people you’d like to connect to.”

And there, before my eyes, were all my email address book contacts.

Whoa! What was this about? I never added my address book to LinkedIn. That’s one thing I would never do.

Life in the Transparent Lane

As a matter of professional hazard, I live my life rather transparently online. But there are some things I take some caution to not share. And one of those things is my contacts. For the same reason I don’t like to be robotically solicited to engage in someone else’s network, I don’t want to be the culprit that causes this pain to others. So I mind my contacts as best I can.

About a half hour of online sleuthing – also known as completely wasting my time – revealed a large network of people who had been caught in this LinkedIn scam. And they, like me were pretty pissed off.

At first I suspected that I had somehow slipped up and authorized Google to cough up my Gmail contacts. But this time Google (and I) were not guilty. Then began the search through my LinkedIn privacy settings. Astonishingly there was no information about contact importing. Ultimately after more research (read: wasting time) I was led to the LinkedIn app recently installed on my mobile device. And there it was…

Permissions? We Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Permissions

LinkedIn Mobile app seizes your contacts and imports them into its platform.

Under “Permissions” in the LinkedIn app is the innocuous authorization to “Read Your Contacts”. It is not an option. It is a condition of using the app. OK, so reading my contacts is one thing. But after highlighting this specific permission, the more onerous truth emerges and it reads,

“Allows the app to read data about your contacts stored on your phone, including the frequency with which you’ve called, emailed, or communicated in other ways with specific individuals. This permission allows apps to save your contact data, and malicious apps may share contact data without your knowledge.”

Well, there it is. Ouch.

Now, to be fair, something I don’t really feel the need, LinkedIn only uses the information to suggest that I start sending out requests for connection. They’ve even done the heavy lifting of culling my list of several thousand contacts down to about 400 or so actual people who are on LinkedIn and with whom I haven’t already connected. And they ask for permission to extend my invitation to them. I can even customize my invite. How nice? No, not nice at all.

Bad LinkedIn. Bad. Bad. Bad.

LinkedIn: You’ve crossed the line. Your app is malicious. And I’m removing it from my mobile device. And worse, I trust you less. Which is too bad, because I’ve been rather high on LinkedIn lately. But now this. It’s wrong.

Next step: Remove those Damn Contacts

Another half hour of research brought me to the process for removing those contacts from LinkedIn. It wasn’t easy. But if you’ve been caught in this cesspool, here’s how to do it.

1) On LinkedIn, navigate to Connections > Add Connections and select “Manage imported contacts” in the upper right of the page
2) Check “Select All”, scroll to bottom of page & select the greyed out (!) “Delete selected contacts” and accept the double confirmation request
3) Repeat this process because LinkedIn won’t display all your contacts at once. For my 1100 imported contacts I had to do this repeatedly.

After repeating this incredibly time wasting process several times, LinkedIn will deliver an error message. They’re toying with you. And disrespecting you. At some point you will have to start selecting a shorter list of deletes. Begin to manually check names – perhaps 50 – 100 at a time. Keep at it. Eventually all your contacts will be deleted.

Dump the LinkedIn App

Delete the LinkedIn app from your mobile device. They behaved badly and they don’t deserve a place on your mobile device.

What Do You Think?

Have you been caught in this? Do you think LinkedIn should bust into your email contacts and import them to their platform? Maybe you think this is a valued service. Let me know.

LinkedIn Spam and the Spamming Spammers Who Annoy Us

Let me tell you about my new and unexpected BFF Allen Cope, Marketing Specialist at SocialAuthorities.com. But before I do, permit me to set the stage.

I “heart” LinkedIn

LinkedIn is a valuable business resource to me. Like you, I’ve joined relevant groups and I interact in some of the discussion. Sure, there is an undertone of self-serving behavior from those who are either oblivious or simply don’t care, but for the most part it is a benign environment and I’m free to pull from it what I want and push my own point of view when I care enough.

Don’t Cross the Line

But there is a line that should not be crossed. And when it is, it would seem the only remedy is for the LinkedIn community to step forward and say “that is wrong.” That is why I want to tell you about Allen Cope, his employer SocialAuthorities.com and their client 3 Tier Logic.

The Big Lie

Don’t be this guy. Don’t work for this company. Don’t hire firms that do this.

So recently, Allen sent me an InMail with the message, “Hi Sonny, I am a fellow group member and I just found this great new piece of marketing technology that I thought you maybe (sic) interested in checking out. Here is the link ….”

Think of the lies inherent in this message: Allen “just found” this marketing technology? Really? And, even though he and I have absolutely no relationship other than a common group membership, he thought I’d be interested in it? I don’t think so. The entire message strains credulity.

Calling Them Out

So Allen, whose LinkedIn bio curiously refers to him as “Clinton,” has leveraged our mutual group participation to prey on me on behalf of his company SocialAuthorities.com, who apparently has been hired by 3 Tier Logic to build traffic to their demo site. Is this cool? No, it is abusive. It’s not only abusive it is entirely disingenuous.

So I’m calling them out for this unsocial behavior in this social medium. Vengeance is not my objective. Exposure is. Self-policing is our only path to civil discourse. If you act badly, people will call you out. And if you hire companies to use bad strategies to further your otherwise worthwhile business objectives, it will tarnish your brand. Be advised.

What do you think?

Should I have just clicked the spam button and been done with the matter? Is the value of LinkedIn increasingly being compromised by bad players? Is this getting worse? Is 3 Tier Logic a perpetrator or victim of their marketing firm’s strategies?

(Note: Thanks to (now former) Senator Al Franken whose excellent and unrelated book, Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them, provided the inspiration for the title of this post. Other than that, he has no involvement with me or this post.)