LinkedIn (temporarily) backs down after uproar at contact export removal

26 Jul 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Downloading your LinkedIn contacts can now take all weekend.

The site had shelved the feature on Friday and replaced it with a new option that bundles your contacts’ emails with an archive of every other file in your profile and takes up to three days to request, Venture Beat first reported. Previously, the “Export Contact” feature provided ease to users, as it allowed them to export contact details such as name, email address, phone number, and uploaded documents, in CSV and VCF formats. The site explained in a blog post on Saturday that it would turn the download back on until it was able to determine how to cut down the wait time for the profile archive bundle. “We’ve heard you loud and clear — that is too long to have to wait for a download of connection information,” LinkedIn’s vice president of product management, Michael Korcuska said in the post. “Effective immediately, we have turned the CSV download link back on.” For those occasions when you need a full list of your contacts (for importing them into another service, for example), you were able to export them as a CSV or VCF file from LinkedIn and go from there.

Now, users will have to request for an archive, and the feature is expected to record all data, for instance registration information, email address, history, and status updates. LinkedIn confirmed the removal of the feature through a tweet, saying that users “can still request [a] copy of your LI data, incl 1st degree conns”, a new method it has detailed on a “Help” page updated earlier today. LinkedIn , that so-called ‘professional network’, has just angered its 350 million users by blocking the ability to export and download your own contact list.

Before, users could download user contact information immediately. “Our members can continue to easily request an export of the data LinkedIn has stored on their account, by visiting our help center,” LinkedIn told Business Insider. While LinkedIn has been adamant that the information has not changed, waiting 72 hours is certainly less time-efficient than having your contacts downloaded in an instant. Now they can, once again: Earlier this week, we turned off our CSV connections download tool and asked our members to use another data export process as part of our ongoing efforts to combat the inappropriate export of member data by third parties. While some might think it has something to do with keeping users on the site, it could simply have been part of an effort to remove code and features from the site that are not often used. We will keep the CSV connections tool available until we can reach that goal (some other data items will be available in an extended archive that may take longer to process).

Although Groups are seen as a marketers paradise and a place to cultivate a shopping list of prospects what many are unaware of is that they are run by PR and media agencies entirely for the use of their clients. These include Owned Groups with a total membership in excess of 1.5 million, including the biggest professional group on LinkedIn, which has more than 795,000 members.

In 2013, Jeff Weiner took LinkedIn in a different direction as a content platform, “LinkedIn sees its future as a publishing platform for professionals,” he said. You see with the momentum we’re generating now in Influencers, LinkedIn Groups, Slideshare, people are increasingly turning to LinkedIn to publish professionally relevant content,” Weiner said. “We think that’s going to create a very strong platform and very valuable context for large enterprises, for small-medium businesses who want to target [and] engage with professionals. But Jeff’s plans have since gone awry, apart from unmoderated and marketing spam in Groups, removing functionality from users without warning, the publishing side has become an unprofessional parody of Facebook, awash with memes, maths puzzles, and pictures of Minions. While LinkedIn continues to make a push as social selling platform with Sales Navigator (Sales professionals who use social selling help best-in-class companies achieve a 16 percent gain in year-over-year revenue according to LinkedIn), a marketing platform with access to 350 million targets and an invaluable HR tool for hiring top talent, its confusing publishing strategy, lack of moderation and real content curation is ruining what was once an original and professional networking tool.

In a previous statement, Korcuska said the team had combined the two export options “into one single process” to “simplify this experience.” LinkedIn is the world’s largest professional network on the internet, with more than 259 million members worldwide, including executives from Fortune 500 companies. Michael cites security and anti-scraping as the main reasons for removing the download tool in the first place, but time will tell whether the damage has already been done.

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