LinkedIn has posted an explainer on how data scraping works. It also shared tips for users to better protect their LinkedIn profiles.
“Scraping has been around since the start of the internet, but it’s grown dramatically in scale and sophistication. Today, the scraping we hear most about is unauthorized scraping, which uses code and automated collection methods to make (up to) thousands of queries per second and evade technical blocks, in order to take data without permission. Scraped data can be gathered from multiple sites, combined, and sold in large batches, to be used for phishing and other campaigns designed to trick you into sharing private information,” says LinkedIn.
For years, the social network for professionals has been on its heels to stop third parties from scraping LinkedIn user data.
The company even went to the Supreme Court to stop a third-party business from gathering public LinkedIn profile information for its own interests. So far, the case is leaning away from LinkedIn’s favor.
It all depends on how much data LinkedIn makes available to the public. LinkedIn can further restrict access to user info. This will limit scraping. But it also reduces in-app discovery.
For instance, LinkedIn shows your name and job title for all to see by default. It won’t show this info if your profile is set to private. The publicly available data is accessible by search engines. This helps increase discovery. If LinkedIn limits that, it would limit its reach.
Striking a balance
The social network must strike a balance. It must manage how much public profile data and how much it sets to private for a win-win solution. Yet, users always have the choice on how much personal info they want everyone to see.
“Spend some time looking at what info you’ve added, from contact details to work history, and get familiar with your settings. In addition, take a look at your public profile page, to understand what information might be public and ensure it’s exactly what you want to be viewable to search engines and other off-LinkedIn services. You can choose to limit or adjust choices if you’d like,” explains LinkedIn.
LinkedIn says illegal data scraping breaks its terms of service. It has things in place to detect violators and protect its users.
“Scraping does not mean an attacker has been able to get inside secure systems, subvert firewalls or access protected network information. Unauthorized scraping can mean that bad actors can collect a lot of data and use it in ways that you didn’t expect,” explains LinkedIn about unauthorized scraping not being synonymous to a breach or hack.
LinkedIn has bots to detect and limits to restrict scraping activities. But it seeks to emphasize how the reported breaches are not products of hacking or data breaches. Users may limit publicly available data to address their concerns, but scraping will continue.