LinkedIn’s Not-So-Convincing Intro Defense

Jonathan Bernstein crisis communications, crisis management, crisis public relations, Crisis Response, Erik Bernstein, internet crisis management, internet reputation management, Jonathan Bernstein, online crisis management, online reputation management, PR, public relations, reputation management, social media, social media crisis management, social media reputation management Leave a Comment

When it comes to crisis management, choose your wording carefully to avoid giving the wrong impression

LinkedIn’s new Intro app has information security experts sweating. Why? The app, which inserts profile information about the sender into emails you receive, intercepts emails and passes them through LinkedIn servers before they reach you. It also adds texts to the end of your outgoing mails and recommends connections to you based on email activity, meaning LinkedIn is grabbing quite a bit of data on your emailing habits.

In a climate where concerns over privacy are at an all-time high, LinkedIn should have taken plenty of time to consider what type of crisis management would be appropriate should public opinion turn against Intro. With intensely critical articles, like this one from security firm Bishop Fox, burning up social media and fueling stakeholder’s fear, we were very much interested in seeing how LinkedIn would respond.

The company brought out senior LinkedIn information security manager Cory Scott as their spokesman, a logical choice considering the subject matter. In a blog post, he fired back with a list of the security measures taken in advance of Intro’s release and directly refutes a couple of points made by vocal critics. While the post lays out the ways in which the app has been secured, it also uses enough technical jargon that your average reader will be lost halfway through and was COMPLETELY devoid of compassion, both major crisis communications mistakes.

In addition, there’s one sentence that caught our attention, and not in a good way:

“When the LinkedIn Security team was presented with the core design of Intro, we made sure we built the most secure implementation we believed possible.”

This sounds very much like a lawyer got their hands on it, and in the process completely erased any feeling of confidence ithey may have intended to transmit. Saying “the most secure implementation we believed possible” gives the impression of leaving room to weasel out of responsibility, hardly a way to inspire faith in Intro’s security.

Given the fact that LinkedIn was blindsided by a massive hack in which nearly 6.5 million accounts were stolen just last year, asking users to trust every piece of email to that same security team is a hard sell. From where we stand, it looks like it’s going to take a lot more than a blog post to convince those with privacy concerns (read: just about everyone) to hop on board with Intro.

The BCM Blogging Team

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