Last week and early this week the world was abuzz with news of various controversies regarding LinkedIn. The hacker lawsuit and conflicting messages about the future of group messaging functionality rocked the blog rolls. When it was finally clarified that free group messaging functionality had only been removed from recruiter accounts, I heard an array of reactions. This is one move that seems to lend itself clearly to the idea that, contrary to popular belief, the company can sometimes see the forest through the trees.

The unanticipated use/negative impacts LinkedIn was referring to in their explanation for removing the function? LinkedIn Recruiter users are sending way too many spammy messages to everyone that shows up on a top level search. Why do I think it is valid to remove the feature for the high paying LinkedIn Recruiter customers, but not individual users?

Bulk messaging features are only available with LinkedIn Recruiter. Even with regular premium accounts, messages can only be sent to one user at a time - and it's very difficult to send multi-recipient, spammy messages when you have to click through each profile individually to do it.  There's a big difference in awareness involved when someone is forced to cut and paste the same message to 50 people, as opposed to simply clicking "select all" and "send." In that context, I think it's a very smart thing for everyone to be concerned about and I'm glad the company addressed the problem.

However, I hope this is a temporary fix. Managers that I have talked to are already concerned because they don't want communications to go unrecorded if a recruiter runs out of Inmails and goes back to working outside the product to send a group member a message. What about the customers that were specifically sold on the compliance aspect of maintaining the records of all communications by their recruiters on LinkedIn?  Programmatically, one would think the company could figure out how require Inmails for the bulk messages, but continue to allow free messages to group members while communicating from within LinkedIn Recruiter.  

Now that the rumors have been put to rest, what are your thoughts? Do you have compliance concerns? Do you think there's anything else behind what may be looked back on as the "LinkedIn Message Scandal of 2014?" 


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