Several weeks ago, Linked-In quietly disabled the functionality that allowed users to easily export and download their connection list. At a time when access to information is more critical than ever, the “world’s largest professional network” failed to issue a single press release or notify users in advance regarding this major change to the platform’s protocol. In a recent article, Forbes magazine cited that this move, which could be constituted as an action to confine users to their site, as the potential “Beginning of the End of Linked-In”.
A Venturebeat article was the first to report on the changes spotted by twitter user @OnicaNL. ‘’@LinkedInHelp Hi, the export connections function doesn’t work. It redirects to a page and to the help page. What’s wrong?’’ A delayed response from the Linked-In User support team explained that Linked-In had adjusted the export procedure to a packaged archive process that could take up to 72 hours. @OnicaNL then echoed the sentiments of many other users when by mentioning “Yeah we got that part, but in a world where speed is important 72 hours waiting for your own information is a lot of time.” The Linked-In support team response was simply a link to their help page that reiterated the delay for users. @LinkedInHelp
Clearly the social giant’s response illustrated how little concern Linked-In placed upon their manuever, and assumed that this individual expressing their discontent was an isolated case. When Forbes surveyed other individuals regarding how they felt about having to wait three days for a process that formerly took TEN SECONDS, an anonymous individual cited that “Waiting this long to access your own data in the 21 century sounds like a joke!”
After a number of similar episodes on social media that clearly illustrated the intensity of the backlash, Linked-In reverted back to the original export function on the following Monday. Michael Korcuska, Linked-In’s Vice President of Product Management, penned a blog post in an effort to assuage the widespread discontentment. Korcuska explained simply that they were hoping to protect user’s data, and that while their execution was not perfect, they did still plan on removing the easy export functionality at some point in the near future.
The manner in which Linked-In acted upon adjusting their policies certainly did not earn them any additional support from users, and in fact, could have done irreparable damage at the company has seen discontentment with their platform grow steadily over the years. Whether the social giant can recover from this episode certainly remains to be seen, but for users who were already on the fence about Linked-In’s usefulness as more than just a social network, this might be the opportune time to explore potential alternatives for keeping track of a database of contacts.