It all started when a friend asked Haughey to connect on LinkedIn.
" I clicked the 'connect' button in the HTML email, and got a page saying we were connected and by the way, do you want to import your address book to find more people?" Haughey wrote on his blog "A Whole Lotta Nothing."
One more click and the service presented Haughey with a page showing six people with check boxes. He then unchecked the people he didn't want to connect with, but failed to realize that he only deselected five out of 1,138 people. One last confirmation click shot out a ton of emails to people Haughey never intended to actually connect with.
Haughey called LinkedIn "a virus" because the address book import feature LinkedIn uses works very similarly to viruses that email a victim's entire address book.
Haughey's story is not uncommon. Others have described making this same mistake.
This issue highlights a bigger problem for LinkedIn: How do you make sure people keep connecting?
The social network has already removed the barrier of needing someone's email address in order to connect, Forbes' Roger Dooley recently pointed out.
"Presumably, LinkedIn doesn’t want to hit a self-imposed growth ceiling created by making it difficult to connect," Dooley wrote.
Despite the annoyance, Haughey took away some interesting facts about LinkedIn, too.
- There are a lot of social media manager-type jobs.
- A heck of a lot of people work at Facebook now.
- Gmail treats subject lines as duplicates on first names, and the clear winner of most responded-to LinkedIn requests are from other people named Matt and Matthew. There must be a reason for this.
- People work at a lot of weird startups I've never heard of.
- It emailed every person I've ever interacted with over Gmail. I got one response from someone that works at a trucking company, probably because I fixed a typo of theirs on MetaFilter years ago.
Ultimately, this is a great lesson to all social network users.
Make sure that you always check to see what you're actually confirming when presented with a mass email option.Now Watch: How To See Who's Viewed Your Profile On LinkedIn (And Block Others From Doing The Same To You)
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