LinkedIn Email Downloading

LinkedIn users can block connections from downloading their emails.
LinkedIn users can block connections from downloading their emails.

LinkedIn added the option to restrict downloading of emails by their connections.  LinkedIn does not generally allow profile downloading or CRM synching except for permissioned connections.  Users now have the option to permit connections to view their emails but block them from downloading emails.  By default, emails are not downloadable unless users change their settings to permit downloads.

While the change is pro-privacy and consistent with GDPR, TechCrunch took a negative view of the new setting.

A win for privacy on LinkedIn could be a big loss for businesses, recruiters and anyone else expecting to be able to export the email addresses of their connections.…[The new option] could prevent some spam, and protect users who didn’t realize anyone who they’re connected to could download their email address into a giant spreadsheet. But the launch of this new setting without warning or even a formal announcement could piss off users who’d invested tons of time into the professional networking site in hopes of contacting their connections outside of it…

On a social network like Facebook, barring email exports makes more sense. But on LinkedIn’s professional network, where people are purposefully connecting with those they don’t know, and where exporting has always been allowed, making the change silently seems surreptitious. Perhaps LinkedIn didn’t want to bring attention to the fact it was allowing your email address to be slurped up by anyone you’re connected with, given the current media climate of intense scrutiny regarding privacy in social tech. But trying to hide a change that’s massively impactful to businesses that rely on LinkedIn could erode the trust of its core users.


Josh Constine, TechCrunch

TechCrunch overstates the loss.  Member control their data, not LinkedIn or LinkedIn connections.   Second, there are multiple ways to reach users from within LinkedIn including InMail, messaging, and PointDrive.  Unless the email is blocked on the profile, connections still have access to emails from within LinkedIn.  Finally, most emails in LinkedIn are personal emails, not business emails (an issue they should address by allowing both and setting privacy and messaging rules around multiple emails), so reaching out to individuals on their emails only makes sense for friends, family, and recruiters on LinkedIn, not businesspeople networking with colleagues and clients.

While LinkedIn wasn’t transparent about the privacy change, it enhanced the privacy of its members.  As such, looking for nefarious reasons for the enhancement is a reach.

Salesforce: Trust is the Key Value for Tech Companies

Salesforce: Trust is the Key Value for Tech Companies

Speaking to Jim Cramer on Mad Money, Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff argued that for technology companies, the key value is no longer the great idea, but trust:

In technology over the last two decades, the most important thing has been the idea. That is, the best idea wins.   That has been what gets you funded, that’s how you grow your company, that’s been your highest value: the best idea wins. No longer true.

The current highest value is trust, and if trust is not your highest value, if the most important thing to you and your company is not trust, you need to look again, and that’s what’s happening with these companies today.

Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff

Benioff observed that a lack of trust is eroding Silicon Valley companies such as Facebook.  “Their executives are walking out, employees are walking out,and that happens with a lot of companies in tech right now. We’ve had a lot of walkouts this quarter.  And the reason why is because it’s kind of amessage to the executives: it’s time to transform.”

“Every company has to hold themselves to a new level of trust, and if your brand is not about trust, you’re going to have customer issues, and you can see that in that brand,” observed Benioff.

And trust has long been part of Salesforce’s value proposition.  The firm emphasizes it’s 1:1:1 philanthropy program (Donating 1% of technology, people, and resources) which has been adopted as a model by other companies.  Salesforce also promotes local nonprofits at Salesforce events, emphasizes Trailhead and meetups for skills advancement, embraced a San Francisco tech company tax to address homelessness, called for a US GDPR to protect privacy, raised womens’ wages to address a pay equity gap following a self-audit, and spoke out against anti-gay legislation.  Under a short-term profit-maximization model, these activities make little sense, but under a longer-term stakeholder’s approach, they make perfect sense.

Trust is based on a stakeholders approach to corporate governance.  It recognizes that Milton Friedman’s stance against social responsibility (“there is one and only one social responsibility of business to use its resources and engage in activities designed to increase its profits so long as it stays in the rules of the game, which is to say, engages in open and free competition, without deception or fraud.”) is wrong.  A stakeholders approach recognizes that employees, customers, partners, investors, and the general public all place value on companies that take a long-term view of their role in society.  Simple profit maximization is a short-term approach which fails to recognize that you can’t attract the best employees or close multi-million dollar deals if you are not trusted.

And you can see this in the stock price growth of Facebook and Salesforce over the past five years.  Facebook’s stock price outpaced Salesforce for the past five years, but once Facebook lost trust, its stock price declined.

Salesforce and Facebook both had strong stock price growth over the past five years, but Facebook retreated this year after it lost trust amongst stakeholders.
Salesforce and Facebook both had strong stock price growth over the past five years, but Facebook retreated this year after it lost trust amongst stakeholders.

Apple CEO Tim Cook on Data Privacy

Speaking at the 40th International Conference of Data Protection and Privacy Commissioners (ICDPPC), Apple CEO Tim Cook forcefully called for expanded global privacy protections akin to GDPR:

Our own information — from the everyday to the deeply personal — is being weaponized against us with military efficiency. These scraps of data, each one harmless enough on its own, are carefully assembled, synthesized, traded and sold. Taken to the extreme this process creates an enduring digital profile and lets companies know you better than you may know yourself. Your profile is a bunch of algorithms that serve up increasingly extreme content, pounding our harmless preferences into harm…

We shouldn’t sugarcoat the consequences. This is surveillance…

We should celebrate the transformative work of the European institutions tasked with the successful implementation of the GDPR. We also celebrate the new steps taken, not only here in Europe but around the world — in Singapore, Japan, Brazil, New Zealand. In many more nations regulators are asking tough questions — and crafting effective reform.

It is time for the rest of the world, including my home country, to follow your lead.

We see vividly, painfully how technology can harm, rather than help. [Some platforms] magnify our worst human tendencies… deepen divisions, incite violence and even undermine our shared sense or what is true or false.

This crisis is real. Those of us who believe in technology’s potential for good must not shrink from this moment…

They may say to you our companies can never achieve technology’s true potential if there were strengthened privacy regulations. But this notion isn’t just wrong it is destructive — technology’s potential is and always must be rooted in the faith people have in it. In the optimism and the creativity that stirs the hearts of individuals. In its promise and capacity to make the world a better place.

It’s time to face facts. We will never achieve technology’s true potential without the full faith and confidence of the people who use it.

He also warned about the dangers of AI which fails to protect privacy:

Artificial intelligence is one area I think a lot about. At its core this technology promises to learn from people individually to benefit us all. But advancing AI by collecting huge personal profiles is laziness, not efficiency.

For artificial intelligence to be truly smart it must respect human values — including privacy. If we get this wrong, the dangers are profound. We can achieve both great artificial intelligence and great privacy standards. It is not only a possibility — it is a responsibility…

Yesterday, Cook tweeted that privacy is a human right

Tim Cook on GDPR

based upon four principals:

  • Data Minimization – Personal data collection should be minimized or de-identified.
  • Transparency – Individuals have the right to know what is being collected and for what purpose.
  • Right to Access – “data belongs to users” with personal data available to individuals for copying, correcting, and deleting.
  • Right to security – “security is foundational to trust and all other privacy rights”

Cook isn’t the first CEO to call for a global GDPR. Microsoft has built GDPR into its products and CEO Satya Nadella has expressed similar thoughts. Salesforce CEO Mark Benioff discussed data privacy and cybersecurity on a May earnings call and SugarCRM CEO Larry Augustin has also voiced concerns.

Facebook Reaps What It Sows

Facebook dropped 20% in one day as the ongoing news about their misuse of personal data began to hit their bottom line a few weeks ago.  Here is a guerilla protest campaign in London which encapsulates their issues:

The problem at Facebook is that they forgot that they were there for their members not their advertisers.  The idea was free content (news, fake news, and social), no editorial review, and monetization of the data exhaust from their platform.

When that happened, truth and privacy became irrelevant.  They can whitewash their actions and pretend that the problems are exogenous to their company, but hiring editors is only the beginning of excising the rot that rests at the center of Facebook’s business model.


Source: Instagram images from ProtestStencil

Rhetorik: What Does GDPR Mean for B2B Marketing? (Part II)

Yesterday, I presented a discussion of Legitimate Interest as the basis of GDPR communications.  For B2B companies in the UK, the 2003 PECR (The Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations of 2003) law is often applicable when assessing GDPR and Data Privacy:

GDPR and Data Privacy under UK PECR and Non-PECR scenarios (Source: Rhetorik)
GDPR and Data Privacy under UK PECR and Non-PECR scenarios (Source: Rhetorik)

The PECR discusses soft opt-ins for individuals, sole traders and some partnerships, but not B2B.  The ICO states that “the term ‘soft opt-in’ is sometimes used to describe the rule about existing customers. The idea is that if an individual bought something from you recently, gave you their details, and did not opt out of marketing messages, they are probably happy to receive marketing from you about similar products or services even if they haven’t specifically consented. However, you must have given them a clear chance to opt out – both when you first collected their details, and in every message you send.  The soft opt-in rule means you may be able to email or text your own customers, but it does not apply to prospective customers or new contacts.”

Legitimate Interest also applies to data licensing relationships and marketing partnerships.  If personal data interest is maintained for a specific purpose (e.g. Technology Sales), data licensing and sharing needs to be kept within the original scope.

Legitimate Interest and Consent also apply within a company.  Data maintained for one product line may not be usable for others, particularly if the firm spans multiple sectors.

The UK Direct Marketing Association published guidance on the subject of Legitimate Interest helping make sense of Article 6.1.f:

“Processing is necessary for the purposes of the legitimate interests pursued by the controller or by a third party, except where such interests are overridden by the interests or fundamental rights and freedoms of the data subject which require protection of personal data, in particular where the data subject is a child.”

And Recital 47:

“The legitimate interests of a controller, including those of a controller to which the Personal Data may be disclosed, or of a third party, may provide a legal basis for processing, provided that the interests or the fundamental rights and freedoms of the data subject are not overriding, taking into consideration the reasonable expectations of data subjects based on their relationship with the controller.”

Once the basis of holding personal data is met, companies have additional conditions to meet around transparency (notification and the right to object), data minimization (Is there a legitimate interest in collecting all of the fields? How long is data retained?), and reasonable expectation (limited impact to personal and private life; ensuring data accuracy).

For individuals who opt out, firms must retain suppression lists to prevent the re-collection of personal information.  The suppression list should be the minimal information required to ensure the individual is not added back into the marketing database at a later date.  With B2B, the list may simply be name and email.

The GDPR also sets out expectations which are relationship specific:

  • Suspects – legitimate interest, reasonable expectation, transparency
  • Prospects – reasonable expectation; consent
  • Clients – contract, legitimate interest, reasonable expectation, data minimization, transparency

Part III of Rhetorik’s presentation discusses GDPR myths and applicable laws across Europe.


GDPR Article 6.1
GDPR Article 6.1

LinkedIn the #2 Social Media Platform across Multiple Metrics

LinkedIn is now the number two social media platform by usage, advertising spend, ROI and analytics tools.  Facebook remains number one.  “While LinkedIn is often considered a hub for job hunters and corporate recruiters, the platform has also shifted to position itself as a marketing engine in recent years,” said Jerry Ascierto, executive editor of The Social Shake-Up Show. “The recent updates to its ad platform and UI seem to be encouraging brands to increase spend. As a result, more companies are experiencing better ROI from this network than others considered more popular and ‘fun,’ such as Instagram, Twitter and YouTube.”

Source: Social Shake-Up.
Source: Social Shake-Up.

LinkedIn has benefited from a native video feature that was launched last year and was recently extended to company pages.

LinkedIn’s last official member count was 546 million global professional profiles.

Microsoft Chairman John Thompson said that the LinkedIn acquisition has been “wildly successful” and that Microsoft would be “all in” on a similar deal.  Of particular interest are firms that would help connect users to the Microsoft cloud.

Thomson was critical of firms that share or sell user data.  “Many of them make money off ads and they have used that as kind of a leverage point,” Thomson told Bloomberg.  “At Microsoft, we don’t believe in that.”

While Facebook has taken a series of hits on its sharing of member data, LinkedIn has long protected member data (for example, Sales Navigator does not permit the uploading of member information to CRMs but makes it available for display).  What’s more, Microsoft has built GDPR compliance into its product line and set it as a global standard.

LinkedIn celebrated its 15th anniversary last month.  “15 years ago, we launched LinkedIn in Reid Hoffman’s living room with the tagline ‘relationships matter’,”  said VP of Product Strategy Allen Blue.  “I’m proud to say that this mantra still rings true today in both the halls of LinkedIn and on the platform. While the world of work has evolved immensely — be it the tools and products we use, the ways we communicate, and even the jobs themselves — our need to connect with one another to be productive in our careers remains at the core of all we do.”

Salesforce: There is a “crisis of trust” concerning data privacy and cybersecurity

A few weeks ago, I wrote about enterprise software vendors calling for an American version of GDPR with Microsoft announcing that it was building GDPR into its global product line as its standard privacy protocol.

On the Salesforce earnings call last week, CEO Marc Benioff observed that the software industry has been going through a “crisis of trust for the past six months” related to privacy and data ownership:

“From the European perspective the way they look at data is data belongs to you, it’s your data. Now for us at Salesforce, we understand that. We’ve had that position from the beginning. Our customers’ data belongs to them, it’s their data. I think in some cases, the companies that are start-ups and next generation technologies here in San Francisco, they think that data is theirs. I think the Europeans with GDPR have really flipped the coin, especially in advertising but in another areas saying hey, this data belongs to the consumer or to the customers, you guys have to pivot back to the consumer, you have to pivot back to the customer.”

Benioff once again called for a US privacy law similar to GDPR which provides “guardrails” around trust and safety. “This is going to help our industry,” said Benioff.  ”It’s going to provide the ability for the customers to interact with great next generation technologies in a safe way.”

Benioff also warned that when AI technologies are indistinguishable from humans, trust will also be an issue.