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Will Microsoft annoy LinkedIn users?

James Henderson | June 22, 2016
Mergers of this magnitude naturally complicate how personal data is shared across organisations.

“Your data is for sale.”

Five simple words emerging from the dust, as Microsoft’s recent $US26.2 billion acquisition of LinkedIn settles across the industry.

Reigniting an industry-wide conversation around privacy, mergers of this magnitude naturally complicate how personal data is shared across organisations, asking questions of how Redmond will utilise its new-found exposure to LinkedIn’s professional network.

With a deep insight into what makes a professional of the modern world tick, LinkedIn’s database presents Microsoft will new personal data it can leverage and exploit.

“Ironically, news of the intent to acquire hit while I sat in the keynote for Gartner’s Security and Risk Summit where I am in attendance to talk about customer expectations for data privacy,” Gartner principal research analyst, Jenny Sussin observed.

“About six months back, a colleague and I started delving into the topic of customer data privacy expecting to write a research note on customers’ concerns with the over 750 data breaches that occurred last year in the US.

“Getting to the ironic part, what we found is that while security professionals scramble to secure their data from being hacked, the majority of customers are more concerned (~80 per cent to ~30 per cent) that the information they voluntarily share with companies is being resold or used in a way that they had “no knowledge” of.”

As explained by ARN, underpinning the value proposition of the acquisition is the union of business relationship data.

Between them, these two companies store and surface a great deal of the information that business professionals use on a daily basis.

“Legally, we consumers have agreed to share just about everything with just about everyone, so why do people get so bent out of shape when they think of a company like Microsoft having direct access to the data we’ve been populating LinkedIn with?” Sussin questioned.

“Whether users knew it or not, LinkedIn was a fairly closed off social network.”

Sussin said if organisations wanted access to spins of LinkedIn data, they needed to purchase one of LinkedIn’s enterprise solutions.

“This is a lot different than what it’s like to work with Facebook’s free page API or Twitter’s public API that limits data volume but not access to specific types of metadata,” Sussin explained.

“The acquisition of LinkedIn by Microsoft means access to the social profile and networking data of over 400 million professionals who use the social network.”

But are those profiles alone worth $26.2 billion?

“Don’t think so highly of yourself,” Sussin qualified. “But even though we’re not worth about $60 a pop, doesn’t mean that users aren’t concerned with what this acquisition might mean for the future of the preferred professional social network.”


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