Professional social network LinkedIn has launched LinkedIn Intro for iOS, which appends professional information into email headers. But with privacy concerns, how popular will the service be among email users?
As social networks go, LinkedIn is perhaps considered to be among the more serious ones, in that users connect with each other based on work-based or professional connections. Thus, one would expect users on LinkedIn to explore the service more for professional gain rather than sharing trivial updates. The site has also become a popular repository of job offerings, and LinkedIn profiles can easily substitute for one’s résumé.
One of LinkedIn’s recently-launched offerings is LinkedIn Intro, an iOS app that extends the functionality of the built-in Mail client to include professional details about the email sender. The clear advantage here is that the service essentially does the background checking, so that a user would have an easier time determining if the sender is to be trusted.
LinkedIn Intro adds a trust factor to email messages, because a user can review the professional and educational background of the sender. By tapping on the Intro bar, users can even get more information on the sender. However, there is one big concern: security. The service requires LinkedIn to act as a proxy for email communications, and the social network’s servers will temporarily store your messages while it processes the “intro” information.
Jon Russell writes at TheNextWeb how this can be a risk, and goes on to cite how LinkedIn has been targeted by security attacks before. LinkedIn, however, has issued an official statement, and allays privacy fears. Data is only stored temporarily on its servers, LinkedIn says. Additionally, the social network has implemented safeguards to ensure the security of the information and the privacy of users, stresses Cory Scott, who is senior manager at the company’s Information Security team.
Just how useful would email introductions be? LinkedIn, for one, is a good resource for professional contacts, prospective hires and colleagues. Making introductions has been part of LinkedIn culture, especially if one seeks to use these connections for business. An “intro” with the right references might help facilitate these connections. Even if this kind of introduction were to be used for non-professional communications, it can help email recipients filter out the spam messages from those coming from legitimate sources — like a long-lost classmate, friend or relative, for example.
The next questions now would be whether LinkedIn will also launch Intro on other platforms, and whether users will trust the social network enough to grant them access to their emails.