Imagine my surprise (I imagine yours to be similar), when whilst sitting around watching t.v. on a cold Sunday afternoon I was fiddling with my new iPad, and decided during a commercial to cross-check my gmail contacts to my LinkedIn contacts.

I was shown a short list of contacts, with no scroll-bar, (deselected a few, actually) and hit 'ok'. I saw no results, iPad did its thing where pages disappear then relaunch. Then, I tried my other gmail account.


The rest, as they say, is history. I'm not certain if it is because I've been on LinkedIn for a long time, have a business account, have a lot of existing contacts or some combination of these factors, but somehow LinkedIn determined I was a suitable candidate to upload two address books (yes, I overtly OK'ed this step), and invite them all to 'get in touch', or to join LinkedIn.

Included in this wonderful offer were anti-spam mailing lists, people I'd decidedly not prefer to stay in touch with, for example, spammers about whom I've complained. LI also wrote to abuse desks to whom I've complained about said spammers, and at least one (literally) dead friend, a dead email list I used to run (or, at least, I thought it was decommissioned), the billing alias for my telephone company, a whole Smörgåsbord stuffed into a cornucopia of ill-placed messaging.

I do have no small number of people who accepted my offer (my dead friend didn't). As, well, I received no small number of complaints, a total that will undoubtedly mount as people will probably complaint to, and elsewhere, justifiably so.

I'm uncertain if this was due to poor UI, generally or UI that only displays on the iPad, and lousy policy regarding address book uploads at LinkedIn and the way that Google aggregates contacts; I will reiterate here what has always been my recommendation regarding such things: Limit inviatation sends to a maximum of 100 at any time, and should an uploaded list have role accounts, the send be held until the validity can be humanly verified. Neither of those things happened.

My two gmail accounts date back to 2006 and 2004 respectively, and I didn't overtly add many of these addresses to my contact list.

There you have it, a case in point and an object lesson in how powerful the tools we use actually are, and the laxity in privacy that is pervasive these days.

Of course, I apologize profusely for the intrusion.

Atypically, I've kept the comment section open for this post, feel free to stay in touch here! 😉

Neil Schwartzman
Exectuive Director