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"Sample Page" [url LinkedIn]
Type Business-Based Social Media
Launch Date 2003
Status Active
Product Line product
Platform Social Networking
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is a professional social networking website for people who are looking to advance their professional career. It was founded in December of 2002 in Santa Monica, California and was officially launched in May of 2003. With over 175 million users from across the globe, it serves as a medium for business-minded users to connect with other professionals. The platform is available in over 200 languages and rated the third-largest social networking website, after Facebook and Twitter.[1] As of January 2018, LinkedIn has over 500 million members. [2] These members come from a variety of industries, professions, and schools, and members can connect and network with others based on similar interests or alma maters. LinkedIn faces ethical controversies such as security breaches, falsified credentials, and recommendation system privacy.


LinkedIn is credited to the site's co-founder, Reid Hoffman, who was previously a Yahoo executive. In May of 2003, LinkedIn became an official site and a month later, 4,500 members had joined the site. At the end of 2003, there were more than 81,000 members and by 2004, there were over one million.[3] In 2004, LinkedIn grew rapidly by integrating users' address book uploads and the ability to create groups. In 2006, the company became profitable and launched new features such as public profiles, recommendations, and a section of suggested users know as "People You May Know." Reid Hoffman stepped down as CEO in 2007, and Dan Nye became the new head of the company. In 2008, LinkedIn opened its first international office in London, England, becoming a truly global company. Later, in 2009, Jeff Weiner became CEO of LinkedIn. By the end of 2010, the site had over 90 million users and over 1000 employees. In 2013, the site reached over 225 million members. [4]

Some other notable founders involved were former employees from PayPal,, Electronic Arts, Microsoft and other technology companies.[5] Currently, LinkedIn generates profit from premium subscriptions, corporate solutions, and advertisements.[3]

In June of 2016, LinkedIn was bought by Microsoft for $196 per share; valued at over $26 million.[6] This purchase was favored by the board of directors for both companies. Both companies sought this transaction with the hopes of empowering professional individuals and organizations through the software services that both firms offer. [6]


LinkedIn Sample Newsfeed

Users are able to perform a variety of actions on LinkedIn:

  • Create a resume by filling in their LinkedIn profile with work experience, educational background, skills, awards, volunteer work, and other qualities
  • Upload links to documents, websites, or projects
  • Write recommendations for other users to highlight experience and skills
  • Find jobs and bookmark them for later use
  • Apply for jobs listed on LinkedIn.
  • Create a list of skills that a user possesses
  • See who has viewed your profile
  • Give endorsement points for each of an individuals skills
  • Search for other users by name, position, and company and view their public profile
  • Follow individual users to receive notifications on recent activity
  • Follow community and company pages to receive notification of events and job postings
  • Engage in discussions on articles posted by other LinkedIn members
  • Send personalized messages to other members

LinkedIn is the only social media platform that focuses solely on business and professional material. The platform provides a way to grow professional connections even if two users have never met before. It gives the opportunity to show off one's professional work, skills, and experiences, and consequently offers more opportunities for jobs. With the ability to search specific skills, recruiters can find people fairly easily and vice versa. This resource allows students and those seeking a job to better interact with employees and recruiters and learn more about open positions. LinkedIn provides users with a massive network of information and data with just a simple glance. Thus, this platform saves both time and resources so that users and recruiters can both scope out a person or company before meeting them in order to save time and maximize efficiency.

LinkedIn has saved time in the application process for many companies. Prospective applicants are able to read information about the company on the company page and apply directly to positions. When filing out an application online, most employers give the opportunity to upload their LinkedIn profile in order to get a jump-start on creating a profile and job application with their company. By doing this, prospective employees are giving companies access to descriptions of their past professional experiences, professional endorsements, and names of other members whom they are connected with. This level of transparency allows companies to know exactly who they may be hiring and offers a more holistic approach to evaluating an individual. This is the only social networking site that offers this option for most job boards and applications. The idea is to consolidate all professional information into one area and then pass that link around, rather than filling out the same information every time one applies to a company.



LinkedIn has more than 410 million users, more than 10 million active job posts, and information on more than 9 million companies worldwide. [7] Appotopia, a company that tracks web properties usage, claims that LinkedIn has 227 million monthly active users this past January and continues to grow each month.[8] Major competitors like Viadeo and Xing are much further behind with 35 million and 10 million respectively.[9][10][11] At the current membership growth rate, LinkedIn gains about 2 new users every second.[12] All Fortune 500 executives have LinkedIn accounts.[3] In addition, about half of all current LinkedIn users reside in the United States. However, India currently has the fastest growing LinkedIn network in the world.[13] Membership on LinkedIn will continue to expand as new start-ups keep emerging in different industries and new job opportunities surface each year.


In 2012, LinkedIn unveiled a new mobile application for the iPhone, Android, and iPad devices. With this application, users can accept invitations, view who has viewed their profile, and share various content and information. Members can also see connections to different companies and can also find job listings. In January 2011, LinkedIn acquired CardMunch, a mobile app maker that scans business cards and converts their data into contacts. LinkedIn plans to integrate this functionality into their services in the near future.[50] In August 2011, LinkedIn revamped its mobile applications on the iPhone, Android and HTML5. Mobile page views of the application have increased roughly 400% year over year according to CEO Jeff Weiner. [14]

Premium Subscription

In addition to the standard membership, LinkedIn has several paid options for recruiters and general employees. Premium plans are payable monthly or annually and give additional features to users. The most basic premium plan is offered at $299/month. [15] These features include a higher number of "InMails" allotted to the premium users. InMails are another form of direct messaging that guarantees a response or else the message is not counted against that user's allotment. Premium users can also utilize additional filters for their search results. Premium members also have more advanced search capabilities, thus being able to get more search results efficiently compared to free users. Premium membership also allows users to become OpenLink members, which allows for unlimited messages to be sent outside of a user's network. When a premium user views a non-premium user's profile, the user is not notified about who it is that viewed the profile, allowing the premium user to remain anonymous. This feature of premium subscription is useful for those recruiting because members can see which companies other students or "competition" are looking at to better gauge how recruiting will pave out.



LinkedIn allows account holders to advertise on the social networking website. LinkedIn's advertising service gives users the opportunity to advertise to a specific target audience by specifying job title, job function, industry, geography, age, gender, company name, company size, or LinkedIn Group. Users must choose their budget for the ad campaign, as well as the bid price of how much they are willing to pay for each click or impression of the ad. Users can choose if they want to pay-per-click on the ad (CPC) or per 1,000 impressions of the ad (CPM). Once the user has created the ad, it must be approved to ensure that it follows LinkedIn's specific guidelines, mainly checking to see that the ad is consistent with LinkedIn's professional tone.[16] An ad may be shown on any or all of the specific webpages, including the user's profile page, home page, inbox, search results page, and groups page. Additionally, once an ad campaign has been created, account holders are able to track the progress of the ad on various graphs provided by LinkedIn.[17]

Ethical Implications

Informational Privacy

Part of LinkedIn's platform is the ability to allow users to connect with professionals across the world for the tradeoff of disclosing information about one's work history to the public. Because users create "profiles," they have control over the personal information they reveal to others on the networking site. Referred to as control theory, this option is said to give users the most sense of security and privacy. The information they provide on LinkedIn is limited to a professional setting. Typically, LinkedIn profiles list volunteer, job, educational, and other skills and personal endorsements about a user [18].

Security Breach

In June 2012, LinkedIn experienced a security breach that uncovered millions of users' passwords. A document containing 6.5 million hashed passwords appeared on a Russian online forum, and more than 200,000 were ultimately decoded. From the document, security advisors around the world found that LinkedIn hashed their user passwords using the SHA-1 algorithm, a common algorithm that scrambles a password into a unique set of numbers and letters.[19] Because the SHA-1 algorithm is a widely known password algorithm, there are free online services to convert passwords and back through the algorithm. To guarantee user security, LinkedIn invalidated the stolen passwords and the affected accounts had to change their passwords. There is still no consensus as to whether credentials other than passwords were stolen, and users who had their passwords stolen feared even more risks as they may have used the same password for multiple online accounts. LinkedIn faced public criticism as many security experts stated that the company's security systems were not sophisticated enough for modern day standards following the security breach.[20]

Falsified Credentials

Since LinkedIn is a public social networking space, anyone can post or upload their resume materials. However, the easy access to this online space also allows people to falsify parts of their resume, such as creating fake online alma maters, reporting graduation from faulty alma maters, and creating fake transcripts and recommendations from past employers. Narang states that LinkedIn has found many falsified profiles where the "text used in the Summary and Experience sections were usually lifted verbatim, though were sometimes modified, from real professionals on LinkedIn."[21] Profiles with false identification or fault information is deceiving to those who want to connect with these individuals based on their profile information. A student could connect with someone who they think went to the same school and spend time trying to reach out to them only to learn that that person never went to the same school. Experiences like this devalue the credibility of LinkedIn and the platform that it serves to members around the world. The community forum or network of LinkedIn affords employers the chance to eventually root out these falsified documents, but this process can be lengthy and tricky. The advanced technology of computers makes it easy for people to create professional-looking documents and upload them on the Internet, making falsified credentials a vast potential problem for legitimate Linkedin users and employers.


With the ability to upload pictures, users can falsify their identity by uploading pictures that are not of themselves. This can lead to a false impression. User can portray an inaccurate representation of their identity on Linkedin, portraying themselves as more professional and clean or better looking on the site compared to how they are in real life. Accounts like these are deceiving to those who want to connect by giving the impression that they have greater importance to a company based on their avatar. LinkedIn warns users that the scammers that create falsified profiles will try to add as many people to their network as possible, disguised under the title of 'recruiter'.[22] These profiles typically use female stock photos as their profile picture.[22] Those who are seeing a job or internship can be misguided by these fake recruiters thus hindering their application and recruiting process. These fake account hackers, posing as recruiters will reach out to individuals offering them information about a job. Upon gaining the persons trust, hackers will prompt users for personal pieces of information. There have been instances where these fake accounts, upon receiving an email address, will send targeted emails to steal information or direct people to sites that contain malware. These hackers have been very successful in their ability to be seen as "not fake." Some have attained a large number of connections and even received endorsements and recommendations, making these fake accounts even harder to detect. [23] LinkedIn claims to have many authenticity requirements in place and encourages user to flag fake accounts to eliminate this problem. Editing technologies available today allow people to alter images to be more attractive by changing their physical appearance: eyes, nose, and body size. Being able to upload any picture you want can cause hackers to create a fake account and pretend to be someone they are not. Users may fall victim to their fake profiles and reveal private information which is especially dangerous when deciding whether or not a profile is authentic or not.

Change of Terms of Service

In August of 2011, LinkedIn changed its terms of service without notifying its users, consequently causing an uproar among users. LinkedIn had started to use the photos, names, and information of friends to create customized advertising for users. A setting to "opt-out" was created, but a notification for the "opt-out" option was only placed on the LinkedIn blog which does not draw as much traffic as the main website.[24] However, within a few days after much backlash, LinkedIn decided to no longer use names and photos of users in advertising campaigns in response to public criticism and uproar.[25]

Recommendation System Privacy

While recommender systems may often be useful for users overwhelmed with limitless amounts of data, ethical issues may arise as well. As with other sites that make use of recommendation systems, such as, Facebook, and YouTube, there is always a chance that recommendations are not useful or appropriate for the user. The LinkedIn system uses an algorithm to suggest professionals you may know, companies you may want to follow, and develops a tailored news feed based on information on your profile and your connections' profiles. The issue stands in relation to user privacy and the amount of information extracted (sometimes unknowingly) to make these recommendations.[26] Whether users are aware or not of this extensive data extraction, LinkedIn's recommendation system ultimately raises ethical concerns because it is based on personal information collected about a large database of users. If access to that information is granted to too many people, severe ethical issues can arise.

When inviting another user to connect, a user has to provide how they know the user with one of these options: listing them as a “Colleague” and clicking one of their current or previous employments; listing them as a “Classmate” and providing the school they both attend[ed]; saying “We’ve done business together” and listing one of their current or former employers; listing them as a “Friend;” replying “Other” and adding their email address (to ensure they knew them outside of LinkedIn); or selecting the option “I don’t know [user].” This system is instituted in an effort to combat spamming and harassment of other users to ensure that consumers maintain professional interactions, and it is certainly abnormal to select the “I don’t know [user]” option; your account may actually become restricted for sending too many invitations with this response [27]. However, many users are still able to utilize LinkedIn's features to gain access to others and "spam" them.

AutoFill Plugin Leak

Introduced a few years ago, AutoFill is a convenient feature that many websites use to capture a visitor's criteria, including name, address, geographic location, phone number, etc. Visitors must be logged into LinkedIn in order for this to work seamlessly on other websites. Yet, given the sensitivity of data being captured, LinkedIn has only made this feature available to a certain list of websites that pay for the privilege. LinkedIn was recently informed on April 9th, 2018 that any malicious website could have hosted this feature, obtaining a user's data undetected. LinkedIn quickly responded by saying they had partially fixed the data, restricting the plugin to the list of sites that have permission to use the AutoFill. [28]

This raises two main concerns for securty within the site, one being signs of weak testing. Because this feature has been implemented for quite some time, it seems a bit suspicious that vulnerability was made this obvious so late in the game. This raises concerns as to how often the AutoFill feature was being tested. Secondly, this raises concerns of how much control LinkedIn users have when logged into the site. If this AutoFill feature is easily transferred onto other websites if a user is logged in, we begin to question what else is made possible or accessible to other websites. How much control do LinkedIn users have across the web?


While LinkedIn is intended to be a social media platform geared primarily towards professionalism and business-like interactions, it does have features similar to other platforms such as Facebook that lead to the service having the same issues as these other platforms. In particular, there have been reports of sexism and similar misconduct under the guise of professional approaches. In September of 2015, Charlotte Proudman recieved a message from Alexander Carter-Silk referencing her appearance as opposed to her resume or credentials. [29]Proudman posted her interaction on twitter, which resulted in backlash against the perpetrator and raised questions regarding the necessity of several seemingly "frivolous" features of the platform.

See Also


  1. eBiz MBA."Top 15 Most Popular Social Networking Sites." Retrieved on 10 December 2012.
  2. Omnicore. "Numbers of LinkedIn Members." Retrieved on 9 April 2018.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 e-Buzz Edge. "LinkedIn's History, Present and Recent Features." 13 May 2010. Retrieved on 10 December 2012.
  4. [1]
  5. Linkedin Newsroom. "Linkedin: Press Center." Retrieved on 10 December 2012.
  6. 6.0 6.1 Microsoft News Center. "Microsoft to acquire LinkedIn". 13 June 2016. Retrieved on 28 March 2018.
  9. Fiegerman, Seth. "LinkedIn has 187 Million Users." 1 November 2012. Retrieved on 10 December 2012.
  10. O'Hear, Steve."LinkedIn Competitor Viadeo Hits 30 Million Members." 11 May 2010. Retrieved on 10 December 2012.
  11. Wauters, Robin. "Social network for business XING hits 10 million members." 27 September 2010. Retrieved on 12 December 2012.
  12. Rao, Leena."LinkedIn Now Adding Two New Members Every Second." 4 August 2011. Retrieved on 10 December 2012.
  13. Weiner, Jeff. LinkedIn: 50 million professionals worldwide 14 October 2009. Retrieved on 10 December 2012.
  14. Li, Anita."LinkedIn Revamps Apps for Smartphones, iPads as Mobile Users Grow." 6 September 2012. Retrieved on 10 December 2012.
  15. LinkedIn. "Subscription Plans." Retrieved on 10 December 2012.
  16. LinkedIn. "LinkedIn Ads Guidelines." Retrieved on 10 December 2012.
  17. LinkedIn."Ads." Retrieved on 10 December 2012.
  18. Shoemaker, David W. “Self-Exposure and Exposure of the Self: Informational Privacy and the Presentation of Identity.” Ethics and Information Technology, vol. 12, no. 1, 2009, pp. 3–15., doi:10.1007/s10676-009-9186-x.
  19. Paul, Ian [2] 6 June 2012. Retrieved on 10 December 2012.
  20. Finkle, Jim and Saba, Jennifer."LinkedIn breach puts site's reputation on the line." 10 June 2012. Retrieved on 10 December 2012.
  21. Narang, Satnam. “Fake LinkedIn Accounts Want to Add You to Their Professional Network.” Symantec Security Response, Symantec Corporation, 2 Dec. 2015,
  22. 22.0 22.1 Narang, Satnam. “Fake LinkedIn Accounts Want to Add You to Their Professional Network.” Symantec Security Response, Symantec Corporation, 2 Dec. 2015,
  23. Fake LinkedIn profiles used by hackers, [3], BBC News, 3 December 2015
  24. Loftus, Tom."Another Social Network Opt-Out Draws Fire."11 August 2011. Retrieved on 10 December 2012.
  25."LinkedIn & Co: Social Media’s Furtive Little Tricks." Retrieved 10 December 2012.
  26. Gupta, Abhishek. "Linkedin Recommendation System." Retrieved on 10 December 2012.
  27. "Why has my account been restricted?" Retrieved on 25 April 2016
  28. [ Retrieved 23 April 2018.
  29. [4]

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