Risks with LinkedIn Automation & Data
Published May 23, 2022 · 4 min read
We get questions and requests to automate LinkedIn quite often actually. Automating LinkedIn sounds great on paper, but all that glitters is not gold, and there are some serious risks with it. Which is why we have chosen not to offer LinkedIn Automation as a part of LeadPilot. This includes any type of automated profile visits, messages, connection requests or post interactions, you name it!
LinkedIn Prohibits It and Bans You for It
Time and time again, LinkedIn has cracked down on anyone using automation in their platform. This means that by using a service which automates LinkedIn you risk a permanent ban of your account now or in the future (as use of automation tools can be logged by LinkedIn), as it is prohibited by their User Agreement (section 8.2).
Your LinkedIn account is of great value, as you have probably spent years building your network. Therefore, LinkedIn Automation services usually have a small text in their agreement which frees them of any responsibility if you're banned and locked out of your LinkedIn account. Furthermore, they are usually not so vocal about the risks (you wouldn't find this type of text on their website).
You Grant Complete Access
Because LinkedIn automation is prohibited, there are no official ways of these services to be granted access to your LinkedIn account. It is usually done in some gray-area, and their access to your account is not scoped (meaning they have full access to your account), by basically copying the keys to your home.
As a result you are handing out full access to read your private messages, contacts, unpublished posts, billing information and conduct illegal scraping using your account by stealing data.
Of course there are official LinkedIn partners which integrate with LinkedIn, such as CRM-systems. However, those systems will never conduct automated tasks on your LinkedIn account. Please verify that you’re working with a legitimate LinkedIn partner before connecting your account.
Why Does LinkedIn Prohibit It?
There are several reasons to why LinkedIn prohibits this. One reason is because LinkedIn has their own service; LinkedIn Sales Navigator, which they want their customers to use in a safe way and within their limits. Additionally, the users registered to LinkedIn have not agreed to have their personal data accessed with external automation tools, which makes such services violate those terms and GDPR.
The Data Is Illegal
There have been several occurrences where LinkedIn have taken legal action against automated tools, most recently in May 2022 where they successfully sued a company for using their data. Additionally, they are making further advances to crack down on offenders.
Not only does the illegality of the data risk the company providing the tool or the data, but also the user of any such tool and data. The reason is that under GDPR you are obligated to make sure that the data is processed in the right way, otherwise you may face a GDPR violation and the fees associated with that. LinkedIn’s official statement reiterates this:
"There are some third-party software applications that attempt to scrape data from LinkedIn, which is a privacy risk and can result in members’ information being used in unintended ways. Third-party software that automates tasks for you can also steal that data and export it out of LinkedIn; at times, without your consent. This is a violation of LinkedIn’s User Agreement, and may be a violation of privacy legislation in specific jurisdictions."
There are multiple obvious risks with associating yourself or your company with illegal activity, and we don’t believe we have to state the obvious.
It May Stop Working at Any Time
As a company it’s important to work sustainable, as it ensures you can build long term strategies and forecast outcomes. By relying on tools or data that LinkedIn is actively pursuing to shut down, you’re putting that at risk.
If you’re a VC-funded startup like ourselves this makes even more sense, as serious investors will conduct a risk assessment whenever it’s time to look at investment opportunities. Therefore, using means which can stop working at any time may risk your future funding. Additionally, if you’re not VC-funded, it may also affect your relationship with customers which may conduct similar assessments of their vendors to ensure their service agreements are not unsafe.
As a user you might think it’s worth using as long as it works, but bear in mind the previous mentioned risks in this article, which will result in long term consequences for your LinkedIn account.
Hopefully all of that answers any questions in regards to LinkedIn automation. We’re continually on the lookout for new great ways to find and contact new leads! However, LinkedIn will not be one of those ways, which you probably understand after reading this.