LinkedIn’s effective response to Intro backlash

Thoroughness and transparency highlight the network’s blog post addressing privacy concerns.

In the wake of this summer’s National Security Agency (NSA) public relations debacle surrounding Edward Snowden’s revealing operational details of mass surveillance, the American public is wary of how, and with whom, their private information is shared.

Following last week’s LinkedIn Intro announcement, security and technology researchers have responded with skepticism and criticism about the technology, which allows for email account synchronization with LinkedIn profiles in order to tell the recipient more (or less) about the sender.

It would provide a sort of LinkedIn verification, showing mutual connections and other information about the sender, with the goal of affording users a more personal, less spam-like exchange.

Security and tech researchers’ main target has been the manner in which the content is accessed and distributed-via an additional server, that of LinkedIn. As many media outlets have pointed out, this extra step leaves an uncertain amount of vulnerability.

How did LinkedIn respond? Quickly and transparently. It would have been easy to have PR representatives issue three-sentence statements and cookie-cutter crisis communications bytes about company security, while denying any possibility of a major information leak.

Instead, the company issued a blog post from a senior manager within the LinkedIn Information Security department titled, “The Facts About LinkedIn Intro.” This post addressed “specific action taken in advance of the launch” and delved into tech specifics and security consultants hired to review the app. It also provided links to documents containing additional privacy information.

Equally important, LinkedIn addressed a blog post from a security firm as factually incorrect. The senior manager ends his post by offering to engage in an open conversation regarding privacy concerns surrounding LinkedIn Intro.

Though the jury is still out on the security features of LinkedIn’s new app, its open communication during a time of potential crisis must be lauded. Its PR effort centered on a real statement, from a real person with real contact information.

If only all companies responded so efficiently and transparently.

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