It Could Be Anyone 😶

Considering the strangeness of the most generic notification I’ve ever received—an anonymous internet businessman who read my LinkedIn profile.

(Quinn Dombrowski/Flickr)

I don’t know about you, but I find the mechanics of LinkedIn fascinating. I’ve been posting there a bit more lately, in part because I’m a professional writer who also has a full-time job at a marketing agency, so therefore, I must keep up appearances.

But at the same time, I occasionally see something on this network that I just can’t get over.

And in this case, the thing I saw was this notification:

Now, don’t get me wrong, I love low-information notifications just as much as the next guy, but considering how big the internet industry is, this could be anyone with their own business. I technically could have triggered this myself by looking at my own profile.

Seriously though, messages like this are intended to convince users to pay money to see the notifications. It’s a dark pattern, and one that LinkedIn exploits in ways well beyond most services. The company has been the subject of lawsuits over its practices, and it lost some of those lawsuits, badly.

LinkedIn, bought by Microsoft in one of the largest acquisitions in the history of the tech industry, defends its practices as “responsible design,” but is it responsible to constantly tantalizingly hint that important people are looking at your profile, the one click between you and the career of your dreams? I say no.

Now, I have to be clear, there are still some professional use cases that come in handy for me with LinkedIn. In particular, I often use it to reach sources or share content. But I kinda wish that I was doing it without the benefit of feeling like some network was looking over my shoulder, tapping said shoulder with information that I can’t even properly do anything with.

I realize LinkedIn is a business (one that was purchased for a lot of money!) and the business they’re in is selling my data by leveraging the fact that their platform is the modern résumé. But I kind of hope that, as they divide my attention for numerous other reasons, they consider that maybe—just maybe—their early-gen growth hacking tricks can take a breather, because they worked and we’re already here.

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Ernie Smith

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Ernie Smith is the editor of Tedium, and an active internet snarker. Between his many internet side projects, he finds time to hang out with his wife Cat, who's funnier than he is.

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