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Aug 17, 2017
This article is part of a series called Editor's Pick.

The latest in the LinkedIn User Agreement/Terms of Service and its anti-add-on saga has people sharing a list of add-ons that LinkedIn is supposedly monitoring. The reason I’m using apparently is that no definitive proof has been offered confirming such a dastardly surveillance program.

That said, I do believe such a monitoring program exists and that the list is accurate (in fact, there is even a Chrome extension called Nefarious that will tell you which extensions LinkedIn is monitoring). It should also be noted that monitoring does not necessarily mean you’re going to the LinkedIn pokey; it only means that in several instances Linkedin likely doesn’t know how a particular extension interacts with their platform and is hoping to catch it in the act.

The core problem is that these articles are titled using the following statement or some variation of it: List of Prohibited LinkedIn Plugins.” In reality, when you read the hyperlinked article the author admits, “We cannot say that these extensions are illegal.”  In other words, they don’t know yet the title and accompanying article serves one purpose: To shock and elicit fear.

Perhaps you noticed that Connectifier, owned by LinkedIn, is on the list mentioned above. This in itself should have served as a soothing cup of tea to calm your skittish sourcing senses. Further, of all the people I’ve heard of who got in trouble with LinkedIn in recent months, most were for sending too many InMails that were either declined, or the recipient said they did not know the person. Digging deeper, it was discovered that there were a few jailing incidents that supposedly involved extensions but only two specific extensions were mentioned (my attorneys urged me not to mention these): two out of the 100s that work on LinkedIn. Hardly sounds like something to cause a sourcing breakdown, right?

Finally, let’s remember that while there are 500 million registered members on LinkedIn there are over two billion on Facebook and most of these add-ons work fabulously well on this other social site. In other words, take a breath, step away from the ledge, and remember LinkedIn is not the end-all, be-all for sourcing great people.

As of now it is not definitively known what is or is not allowed and likely never will (why never? Because companies have funny ways of working with each other). That said, here is a quick yet not all-inclusive set of rules to using an extension with LinkedIn:

  • If the add-on requires permissions to access LinkedIn, it is probably not good. The add-on covers up a decent size part of the LinkedIn user interface; it is likely to be not good.
  • If the add-on covers up a decent size part of the LinkedIn user interface, it is probably not good. The add-on scrapes LinkedIn quickly or views too many profiles in a short period, it
  • If the add-on scrapes LinkedIn immediately or displays too many profiles in a short time, it is probably not good.

Again, these guidelines are not all-inclusive, and there are exceptions and of course LinkedIn can change their minds at any time. There’s one more item to be concerned about some of these add-ons also have extensions. While an extension might be in question while working on the LinkedIn user interface, its functionality remains while working within the add-on’s own workspace.

While this issue is being played out in real-time by LinkedIn sheriffs, keep yourself informed by following related threads on various Facebook groups (such as SourceCon) about sourcing. Read what is being said by your fellow community and those that might have received “LinkedIn summons” and make your best-informed decision as to which tools to use and which ones to retire.


*Editors note, Steve Levy and Dean Da Costa both serve on advisory committees to SourceCon and to other companies that offer Chrome extensions for sourcers.  

This article is part of a series called Editor's Pick.