Like the author of this article I have often found that people that I am not friends with on Facebook, have never communicated with via email or are in my LinkedIn network have been displayed in “People You May Know”. I will see names of distant family members that live in a different country, childhood friends parents or complete strangers with a little profile information from time to time. Unlike the author of this article I do not find it all that creepy, this is all part of the experience of engaging in Social Media. If users do not want to read the fine print or confirm their privacy settings are up to their standards then they shouldn’t participate.
The article references LinkedIn’s Help Center which was last updated 05/01/2013. The overview lists bullet points about LinkedIn’s methods for displaying these connections. In summarizing either the people listed have 1-Common connections, have worked at the same company or went to the same school as you or 2-Imported contacts from another address book into LinkedIn. This means that if someone else has your contact information and uploads it into LinkedIn then that would explain why they show up on your page under “People You May Know”. This explains a large number of possible connections that author of the article finds. The article’s comments are very insightful. Multiple commenters have found reasons for the connections the author sees. They have confirmed that one of the data points LinkedIn uses to connect users is an identical IP address. If two users are working out of the same office using the same public IP address it could link the two profiles together and suggest a connection. Another interesting study a commenter performed was to create two profiles with random surnames that the user has no real life connection with. Days later the user received suggestions of people with the same surnames. I find this method beneficial, adding value to the experience. My reason for using LinkedIn is to establish a strong professional network and to connect to as many professional as possible.
Some people will use LinkedIn for more than professional connections. If they want to browse attractive users then that is not surprising. If a user is concerned their privacy may be violated and they did not take the precautionary measures of checking their privacy settings they should avoid that particular social media site. It is also easy to avoid accepting a connection request if you do not wish to connect.
Have you experienced a similar reaction to the author when viewing LinkedIn’s “People You May Know”? Do you read the terms of service when signing up for a social network? Do you check your privacy settings frequently on your iPhone and social media accounts? Are you concerned what information about your browsing habits is retained?