Monday, August 20, 2012

Massive Linked-In FAIL! BEWARE to users.

I don't normally post negative reviews about products and services.  I generally try to celebrate the things I really enjoy and share that with others.  But, I had an astoundingly destructive experience with Linked-In this morning.

I received a Linked-In invite from an old colleague and decided to see who else had sent me an invitation that I might have neglected. I don't use Linked-In very much, but it's good to have a memory aid for colleagues I've worked with. After about 20 minutes of browsing and seeing which people have found new jobs (or been promoted in their old ones). I noticed that in my email stream were notifications of people accepting my invitations. I had only sent out about 5 invitations during my browsing session, and none of these notifications were from the people I had manually invited.

After about a dozen acceptance notifications from people I didn't recognized, I checked the Linked-In website and the "sent invitations" tab. Apparently, Linked-In automatically sent out nearly 1000 invitations on my behalf! See the screenshot below of my inbox flooded with accepted invites:

This continues on for several pages. I don't know exactly by what criteria this bug decided to send out 1000 invites. Perhaps it was everyone in the network of every profile I looked at this morning. Regardless, this was a major failure of this social network for me. I'm not even sure it's physically possible to send out 1000 invites in 20 minutes. And of course, there's no way to easily withdraw 1000 invitations in the UI. After about 15 minutes of trying to figure out what went wrong, emailing support, and trying to manually retract invites to people I didn't know.... I gave up.

Generally, I think Linked-In is a good service. However, this bug is castrophic for preserving any sense of professional meaning in the social network. It has caused A LOT of confusion for me and several other people, not counting the annoyance of spamming people on both sides. It's not the end of the world to be over-connected to people I may have briefly met directly, indirectly, saw me give a talk, or merely know of me. In fact, it's rather flattering that so many people accepted my invitations. I'm now connected to some people I perhaps should have sent invitations to, but the net was cast EXTREMELY wide and it has diluted the distinguishing value of Linked-In to nearly zero.

If you really care about the discretion of your Linked-In activity, BEWARE, this bug might hit you too and Linked-In might cause you to spam 1000 people, just like me.


Unknown said...

Some time ago linkedin was hacked and unsalted passwords were "stolen" (just google "LinkedIn hacked"). Have you changed your password since then?

Mr. Fletcher said...

it's not a bug, it's a feature.

they have this nasty thing: if you use their search for friends feature they show you a first page with people that are both on their network AND in your contacts, with all the friends pre-checked, then they show another page that lists people that are in your contacts but NOT on their network, with a feature to invite them.

you have to go through both pages to conclude the process and both pages have a little "skip this step" link but i can be easily overlooked.

maybe you clicked on the "wrong" button in one of these pages (i have 850 contacts in the second page and i'm not "famous").

either way it's definitely NOT a good policy.
it's akin to browser pre-installing all sorts of crap on your computer if you forget to uncheck the little "install XYZ bar too"...

M said...

Ooof. Headache! I've done my part and cancelled the LinkedIn connection. Was flattered at first then thought "wow, his connection numbers sure are rising fast".

Still love my my Johny Lee steadycam btw!

bombërman said...

I have no account there and never even visited their website. Guess what? I get dozens of invitations every day. Almost none are from people I know. I always thought linked-in was a virus in my friends' pcs, or some sort of spam trap. Thanks for your post. Now I know it is a real "social" service...

MYK said...

ouch! thanks for posting this. This is a feature of many social websites today. The lesson for me here is to be 'extra' cautious when signing up.