Robin Fisher
2 years agoPublic
A few weeks ago, I sent a LinkedIn connection request to someone I've known for about 20-25 years. He is the Managing Director of a company based in the Midlands and my mom's business partner.

A couple of days later, my mom forwarded an email to me which he had received.  It appeared to be the standard "would like to connect" email but he said he didn't have a LinkedIn account.

I was slightly surprised and a bit confused. He had certainly appeared in the People You May Know list.  I put it down to me misremembering what had happened.

As you might know, LinkedIn allows you to sign in to your email account and it will scan your contacts to see if those people are on LinkedIn.  I must have done this in the past because based on what I've seen today, I am certain that LinkedIn misrepresents that people have LinkedIn accounts when they don't.

The picture attached to this post is from the People You May Know page.  The person in question is my mom's sister who passed away about a year ago.  For the majority of her life, her and her husband ran a small hardware shop in a Derbyshire village and she barely understood email, let alone LinkedIn.

LinkedIn is not using the email contacts to find people who have an account already.  It is evident that LinkedIn is misrepresenting who has an account and does this to entice such people to create one when they receive a "would like to connect" email.  In doing so, it misleads its users into thinking they are connecting with people who already use the service.

Another example of the lengths LinkedIn will go to in order to increase its user base.  I grow more and more discontent with their methods.
Paul Radtke2 years ago
I also realized this, since some companies and even costumer services appeared on my "people you may know". But this is done quite on the safe side, as they claim these are people you may know, and the button add to network may be a connect or an invite action. The question is, if they count these "Ghost profiles" when calculating the amount of connections one might have.
I felt it intuitively and I never share my contact lists with systems.+6
Priyesh Goyal2 years ago
I guess LinkedIn is not counting them as a user. This is more kinda invite thing . once you click add to network they will send an invitation to that email id :)+1
Stuart Woodward2 years ago
Yes, my 9 year old son's name came up and the only place in the world where his email address is stored is in my contacts which got sucked into LinkedIn. Companies like this are able to create pretty substantial profiles on people who are not members by aggregating the data from other people: a name here, an email address from there, a telephone number from someone else, all linked by common data.+2
Maxwell Lamb2 years ago
I think it's deeper than this. I've never shared my address book with them, but yesterday, I had the same situation, saying we had X mutual connections - and he doesn't even have a linkedin account. I think they're looking at the graph created from the imports of multiple peoples' address books and are then recommending people based on proximity, in a nice, disingenuous fashion.+2
Peter Billing2 years ago
In the meantime, I'm sure your friend will thank you from the bottom of their heart for publishing their email address, free and clear, on a public network.  The phishers will love her!+2
I think it happens as soon as you install the LinkedIn App on your phone, that when they started to appear for me. I got rid of the app immediately after I realised this.+1
Robin Fisher2 years ago
+Peter Billing The email is my aunt's who passed away a year ago so I don't think it will be an issue.+7
Chris Boursnell2 years ago
Facebook does the same thing. It creates 'shadow profiles' for people that haven't signed up to facebook.+1
Francis Siefken2 years ago
Yes, I discussed the same matter 2 weeks ago with a guy who doesn't have a linkedin account and gets the same e-mail
Ben2 years ago
Even when you delete them from your imported contacts (Network -> Add Connections -> Manage Imported Contacts -> Delete 10 at a time) they still appear in the "People You Might Know" section. So, logical deletes then LinkedIn?
Michal Stefanow2 years ago
I was ranting about it on my LinkedIn feed.

Too bad I cannot access my LinkedIn feed history. 

(it's not really feasible)
+Peter Billing He said she is dead...
Patrick Coombe2 years ago
Kind of how Google+ says my cousin has a Google+ account when she only created it because they asked her to?
Vamsi Mohun2 years ago
+Patrick Coombe No way it is "kind of" like Google+. In the case of Google+, your cousin CREATED an account. LinkedIn is making it look like people have accounts on LinkedIn when they don't!
Jordan Sawyer2 years ago
Doesn't anybody at LinkedIn acknowledge that this behavior leads to a loss of perceived value, despite the pleasing feeling of superficially increasing saturation?
Atanas Entchev2 years ago
The top two people in my "People you may know..." are dead. Have screenshot, won't post out of respect for the deceased.
Brent Csutoras2 years ago
Google+ has done this since launch no?
Brent Csutoras2 years ago
In the case of Google+ it shows people who have created an email account, not Google+ profiles. It includes Hotmail, Gmail, Yahoo, etc. 
Ajit Jaokar2 years ago
I have the same problem. And it also includes minors! Is Linkedin uploading profiles of minors including email addresses?
Jason Hanley2 years ago
Agreed, this is sketchy.+1
Stephen McMahon2 years ago
Some things that I have noticed about these are that if it uses "Add to Network" instead of "Connect", then they are not a LinkedIn user and will get an invite instead.  Another indicator is when you see "N Shared contacts" rather than "N Shared connections", (which would also be a link).  Regardless, I agree that it amounts to annoying trickery.+1
Ajit Jaokar2 years ago
yes what I am unclear of is: against my son's 'profile' age 10 - I can see his email address. I dont know of that profile can be seen by others
Kemory Grubb2 years ago
I guess this one of those "fake it, till you make it" situations. 
Bryan Haskin2 years ago
LinkedIn had always used these scummy tactics.+2
az noelle2 years ago
I love (sarcastic tone) how LI let's people endorse skills when they have never worked with you before. How do your connections know how awesome you are? By endorsing a connection, LI gives it's users a more interactive experience? It serves no purpose in my book. +1
Stephen McMahon2 years ago
+az noelle I often wonder if I should be concerned by the number of non-programmer or even non-technical people who have endorsed me for Subversion.
Jon Chui2 years ago
I have this same problem! I wish you could take back all your contacts
Justin Furniss2 years ago
I wrote something up about the questionable approaches of LinkedIn last week:
David Busby2 years ago
Some folks I know did similar experiments, LinkedIn was quite aggressive about finding people you know. No ghosts. LI quality is in the toilet. Let's make a proper professional networking site.+1
Tejas Iyer2 years ago
I never gave LinkedIn my email contacts, it stole them from my android smartphone since the app had sufficient permissions. I uninstalled the app once I figured it out but the damage had already been done.
Robert Brown2 years ago
Shady! Thank you and news @ ycombinator for alerting me to this.
Tod Hagan2 years ago
+Bryan Haskin
Yes, LinkedIn has always done this. It's the reason I've never signed up.
Bryan Haskin2 years ago
+Tod Hagan Same here :)
Again, it's the old debate "ethics vs growth" !
Some will call this growth hacking...
Linkedin is VERY close to loose yet another user. (me)
Bryan Haskin2 years ago
+Zak El Fassi I am not sure if "growth hacking" is the same as blackhat SEO kinda crap (although in case it isn't SEO)
Barbara Cassani2 years ago
I just got in the section "People you may know" the name and email address of an old internet alter ego of mine, in the same format of the one you've posted. The link to her/my profile is not clickable but it appears we have 2 connections in common (?).
SHIA ATHIMEN1 year ago