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LinkedIn Endorsements Are Social Engineering

Today I popped off a quick tweet after yet another email from LinkedIn:

Please please please…

… stop endorsing me.

Seriously.

I barely use LinkedIn. For me it is little more than a contact manager, and otherwise lost most of its other value long ago. Perhaps thats my own bias, but there it is.

As for endorsements… this is LinkedIn deliberately social engineering us. Reciprocity is one of the most common human behaviors used for social engineering, because it is one of the most fundamental behaviors in building a social society. From Wikipedia:

With reciprocity, a small favor can produce a sense of obligation to a larger return favor. This feeling of obligation allows an action to be reciprocated with another action. Because there is a sense of future obligation with reciprocity it can help to develop and continue relationships with people. Reciprocity works because from a young age people are taught to return favors and to disregard this teaching will lead to the social stigma of being an ingrate.

This is used very frequently in various scams. LinkedIn uses endorsements and reciprocity to draw people into logging into the service. You feel you need to return the endorsement, you log in, endorse, and then maybe endorse someone else, spreading it like Chinese malware.

If LinkedIn wasn’t so obnoxious about the notification emails I wouldn’t consider this such a blatant attempt at manipulation. But the constant nags are crafted to elicit a specific return behavior.

In other words, clear-cut social engineering.

—Rich

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By Andrew Hay  on  02/12  at  09:36 PM

How to turn off the email notifications:

1. From your profile, click on your name in the upper right corner, then Settings.

2. Click on Email Preferences.

3. Click on Set the Frequency of Emails. Scroll down to locate Endorsements, choose No Email, then Save Changes.

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