I Closed my LinkedIn Account

Admittedly, it had been unused for quite a long time but, regardless, my LinkedIn profile had a few historical recommendations from people I actually knew and respected, so I hesitated before closing it.

The main reason I had for closing my LinkedIn account is to protest in some small way against the lawsuit that LinkedIn are pursuing against hiQ for scraping (automatically fetching and processing) public profiles of members.

I don’t know or care anything much about hiQ or their scraping antics, but LinkedIn pushing to criminalise accessing of public profiles, via a web server bound to a public TCP port, on a publicly visible computer is a dangerous step in the wrong direction.

The argument LinkedIn are trying to make is that they wrote to hiQ saying “You are not authorised to access our web site”, and now claim that subsequent access to their site constitutes criminal ‘hacking’ (e.g. breaking into a computer system to obtain private data).

That’s nonsense, to suit their commercial objectives. The fact that they effectively scraped my address book when I signed up was not unnoticed. They very likely scrape the sites that their millions of members link to in their profiles, posts, and messages. It’s hard to believe that their company grew without analysis of data legally harvested from public web sites.

The consequences of LinkedIn getting their way would be damaging to the Internet (we’d never have had search engines, with such a restricted Internet). There are plenty of technical measures they can take to address their concerns, without trying to foist laws on us all to address their particular commercial concerns.

Increasingly, ‘social’ media companies are becoming, in my opinion, blatantly anti-social. So much so that here we have two companies who have built their business model around surreptitiously tracking and analysing personal data (that in all likelihood was not given for those purposes) having a very public spat that could impact on the original intentions of the web, and on the principles that got us here in the first place.

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