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Job Hunting? LinkedIn Is Forced To Allow Your Employers To Track Your Profile

16 August 2017 09:37

Changing job just got a lot more complicated as LinkedIn fails in its bid to stop third-party bots from scraping their member's data - meaning your employers could be notified. The question is, should it be stopped?

An individual interviewing in front of 4 employers.

Maybe you’re considering a change of career? You decide to give your LinkedIn profile a little makeover and spruce up any untidiness that might just deter that potential employer.

But there’s a problem.

What if we told you that these changes could be reported back to your boss, notifying them that maybe you’re looking for pastures new? Well, that’s the exact scenario that LinkedIn tried to stop this week… and they’ve failed.

The professional networking monster that holds mountains of our valuable information, lost the fight against a third-party startup company called HiQ Labs. Labelled as a talent management company, HiQ describes their offerings as “a crystal ball that helps you determine skills gaps or turnover risks months ahead of time” - all by ‘scraping’ the mountains of data held by the professional networking site.

Long story short- LinkedIn didn’t like it.

Wanting to avoid the risk of upsetting its members, LinkedIn decided to block HiQ’s ability to scrape its data. But a US judge has now ruled in favour of HiQ Labs, and the barrier has now been lifted - ultimately opening a huge can of opinions and debates about how the data we publish online should be monitored and used.

Is it acceptable?

It might initially sound completely understandable that LinkedIn is less than happy with having their data monitored in a way that could provide big risks to their members, but there are some convincing arguments in HiQ’s favour.

The data being accessed is already made public within the member’s profile and is available to anyone with access to a web browser, meaning that HiQ aren’t actually analysing private sections. Also, LinkedIn doesn’t own the data of its members, and HiQ have said they don’t sell or republish the data they collect.

(Read a similar blog: The Social Media President | Why Donald Trump's love for social media is a BIG security risk)

What next?

The ruling leaves LinkedIn, and its users, in a tricky spot. The usefulness of the site is in part due to its data being easy to access. If you’re hunting for a job you naturally want people to be able to find you. But in doing so, you don’t want your information being used in ways you did not anticipate.

That’s what LinkedIn is arguing it is trying to protect, and this ruling makes it hard for users to have one without the other.

There’s talk of them appealing the decision on the belief that using its data in this way - to predict when staff might leave - was a breach of the site’s terms of service and also potentially of the US Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA).

It remains to be seen what will happen next, but one thing's for sure - LinkedIn isn't giving up the fight anytime soon.

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