Your profile has been viewed by

I met a really nice guy at STC Summit named Eric Roberson [LinkedIn] [Twitter]. He attended my Evangelizing Yourself talk, and was apparently very moved by it (which moved me).

The next day when I saw him in another session, he took out his phone to show me something he’d discovered earlier in the day. When looking at his own profile on LinkedIn, he happened to glance at the section titled, “Your profile has been viewed by:”. Though the site aims to obscure the identity of the person — using job titles, company names, industries, and locations in lieu of names — their algorithm doesn’t always do the best job. Sometimes they reveal visitors from one-person companies, one-person departments, or just generally people who are very easy to identify.

The latest visitor to his profile:

A compensation analyst from his own company!

I couldn’t help myself but burst out with laughter. It slay me for two reasons: 1) I’ve never worked for a company large enough to actually employ someone with the title “Compensation Analyst”; and 2) Given the sensitivity of the role, they might want to be a bit more stealth about their research.

Eric was suddenly overcome with sense that he’s being watched — because he is.

LinkedIn, it’s time you thought a bit harder about what you display in the Your Profile Has Been Viewed By… feature, and consider the repercussions of what some people may see there.

Rule #1 of User Experience: Don’t cause pain.

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  1. says

    Coincidentally, I just happened to notice a different LinkedIn flaw — and a potentially larger one, I believe.

    When one user recommends another, that recommendation is immediately visible on the recommendation-giver’s profile (and updates) — even before the recipient accepts it. Not sure what happens (yet) if a recommendation is outright denied by the recipient (but I think it still displays it on the giver’s profile).

    That opens up some *huge* pain possibilities.

    ~ yoni

  2. epc says

    Couple comments: what’s displayed on the “Your profile has been viewed by” is left to the discretion of the user (the view of the profile, not the profile owner). You can choose name/title/location, title/location, location, or anonymous.

    W/R/T recommendations, I’ve found that recommendations which are requested get automatically added, but ones which are made w/o a request get hidden until an approval. That was as of a couple of years ago, uncertain if that’s still the case now.

  3. says

    Actually, I’d like to see LinkedIn be more transparent with data like this, and not less. If Joe Smith, the Compensation Analyst at Symantec, is snooping around employees’ LinkedIn profiles, better to just flat-out say it rather than hide it because it causes pain.

    The attempt at obscuring data is annoying; it’s the snooping that’s painful. If Compensation Analysts knew that their profile views would be totally visible to employees, perhaps they’d be less likely to snoop in the first place. Or at least we could all feel better, knowing exactly who’s been tracking us down on LinkedIn.

  4. says

    The “Who’s viewed your profile” thing makes me a tad paranoid as well. I’d rather know exactly who’s viewing it or not at all. The middle ground, in this case at least, is not a good thing.

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