Today we received a note offering the sale of a LinkedIn HR group.
I have to say, it caught us by surprise. Well done I suppose to the entrepreneur who decided to build up a following of HR leaders, complete with email addresses and conversation histories. But we’re feeling very uncomfortable about the concept - we’d never dreamt that this type of information would be for sale.
Of course we understand that some companies exist to build up databases purely with the intent of flogging them off as mailing lists or for research data. The reputable sellers have the permission of the people on the list to pass on their information. The naughty sellers do not.
We are very aware that when subscribing to various websites, requesting company information or making certain purchases, we are at risk of having our details whacked onto a database, which could in time be sold off without our knowledge.
Strangely though, we just never thought of this practice applying with LinkedIn.
Of course a key advantage to buying one of these LI groups, is that the professional profile and contact details of any given member should be right up to date. Think of the information to be mined – name, home city location, work history; and often also birthdate, extra curricular interests, education history, conversation history (thus indicating interest areas), phone numbers, travel schedule, professional contacts and more. It’s a veritable goldmine for headhunters, HR service and software vendors, and a good head start for identity fraudsters. Someone is bound to rush to buy it (although it certainly won’t be us!)
Maybe it is naive of us, but we regard the sale of a LinkedIn group as a breach of trust. We never joined the LinkedIn community on the basis of our details being up for sale. For us, it feels akin to having our facebook or Snapchat or even our Hotmail accounts hacked; with the information flogged off to some sneaky no-gooder.
Yes, we know that LinkedIn is a public domain site that we've chosen to be a part of; but we like to think we have some control over who views our details, and who we interact with. We are part of the LI community, and of any HR group because we have a common interest in sharing ideas and information. We don’t want to be badgered by some random contact whom we hadn’t knowingly shared our details with.
Are we over-reacting?