I think we're all reaching saturation point on the social network front. Most of us are by now signed up to more of the things than what we can feasibly manage and gain value from and lately I've felt like it's time to start paring them down to the ones that are of real use to me.
For a while now I've been questioning LinkedIn's value. I had a Twitter debate with friends and the only person who insisted that it was a good idea to maintain an account was Boris:
It can be challenging to debate on Twitter with its 140 character limitation. "If I don't know you and you're not there, mark against you" - if you don't know me, you probably aren't going to be looking for me on LinkedIn anyway. You're probably going to google me or something relating to me (eg Drupal), not so? Anyway, it wasn't only me - there were other people who felt the same way as I did. I value Boris' opinions highly but this time I had to disagree.
I can't come up with a single reason why I need an account on LinkedIn, and frankly I find the site annoying. It annoys me that after I've accepted someone's contact request via email I then have to then login to the site if I want to do anything else. It annoys me that no matter how many times I login, it does not leave me logged in on my own computer. And most recently it annoyed me that the company added fields into the My Account section where it auto-opted me in to share my information with 3rd parties and affiliates, and subscribe me to emails, without ever letting me know. Facebook has a bad reputation for this stuff but when I looked through LinkedIn's account information the other day I was shocked. It was as bad as anything Facebook has ever done.
But! there is one more very important point that makes me absolutely not trust them. I'm a little ashamed to be admitting this part because it involves me having done something stupid: when I first signed up for LinkedIn a few years back they had this handy "Find your contacts from Gmail!!!" feature. Usually I am so cautious and careful about stuff like this but in a moment of stupidity I decided that it seemed like a good idea and I entered my Gmail username and password for it to auto-discover Gmail contacts of mine that were on LinkedIn. Idiot. Anyway - this was in about 2007 or 2008 I believe. Since that time I have removed all traces of that email that I could find on LinkedIn and changed my login details (on LinkedIn) so that it was using a different email account, yet to this day each time that I have logged into the site it has shown me in my list of "People You May Know" contacts that I did not meet and exchange email correspondence with until much later. One such example is the managing agent for the apartment that Scott and I bought in the middle of last year.
So what is it that am I claiming exactly? I'm claiming that LinkedIn has stored my gmail username and password on its server and without my permission continues to login and access my personal information. The only explanation for how it would know to recommend people like my managing agent to me (people who I am not connected to on ANY social network and have only actually had dealings with via email, and who I've only had dealings with in very recent times) is if it has stored my details and continued to access my email.
Please - someone prove me wrong about this, because I am disturbed. And in the mean time I am really pleased to have shut this account down.