LinkedIn Privacy Is a Contradiction In Terms

Just give me one thing that I can hold onto.  — Bonnie Raitt

It bothers me that LinkedIn sells the fact that I have viewed someone’s profile to people who are willing to pay for Upgrades.

It just does.

When I joined LinkedIn years ago I didn’t expect the morphing of its Privacy Policy that has gone on over the years to the point where it resides today:

Maintaining your trust is our top priority, so we adhere to the following principles to protect your privacy:

We protect your personal information and will only provide it to third parties: (1) with your consent; (2) where it is necessary to carry out your instructions; (3) as reasonably necessary in order to provide LinkedIn features and functionality to you; (4) as we reasonably believe is permitted by law or regulation; or (5) as necessary to enforce our User Agreement or protect the rights, property, or safety of LinkedIn, its Members, and the public.

Maybe a sixth caveat should be added:

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(6) when a third party is willing to pay for it

As when it promises, in its LinkedIn Premium upgrade package, to give you “90 days of details on Who’s Viewed Your Profile and how they found you.”

Am I the only one scratching my head over this seeming contradiction?

[Editor’s Note: I’ve talked via email and phone messages today with LinkedIn about this article (many times!). I told them they definitely can write a rebuttal any time, but in the meantime, their main point, which is one I wanted to post here, is this (I’m pasting straight from LinkedIn’s email to me): “Any member (free or paid) who changes their settings to ‘totally anonymous’ will appear to all members (free and paid) whose profiles they’ve viewed as ‘LinkedIn member, this member chose to be shown as anonymous.’”  — Todd]

Maureen Sharib has been a “Socratic sourcer” her entire sourcing career; from the moment she first picked up the faxed list of Silicon Valley high-tech companies that was her target list to “phone source” in 1996 to today she has instinctively followed this method of investigative sourcing using (mostly) the telephone.  She is a proponent of sourcing as a synonym for success and envisions the craft moving away from a dangerously drudgery-paced life-form existence to an exciting investigative/competitive place within organizations where practitioners co-exist within a framework of market research, human resources, and C-level future planning. She owns the phone sourcing and competitive intelligence firm, Inc. You can contact her at Maureen at or call her at (513) 646-7306.  If she’s not on the phone she’ll pick up!