LinkedIn incorrectly IDs people in the news, has to pause email system featuring them in Europe

Jonny Caldwell

LinkedIn is receiving heat from users in Europe today, as the company is dealing with an issue which has caused an email feature that notifies users when others are mentioned in media articles to incorrectly identify them. Because of this, it has been forced to put a pause in the system until its able to figure out the cause of the issue and correct it.

As reported by TechCrunch, at least two complaints were filed as a result of the issue, with one of them revealing the “details of the private life and unsuccessful career of a person of the same name,” according to the annual report from the Irish Data Protection Commission, which doesn’t name the company directly, but has been confirmed by TechCrunch as LinkedIn itself.

The company’s “Mentioned in the news” system matches users to stories, seemingly without considering that there may exist others with the exact same name. As another user complained, it has caused problems which were “detrimental to their professional standing and had resulted in the loss of contracts for their business.”

The DCP has then intervened and forced the company to disable the feature due to the concerns, citing that it was “insufficient” when it comes to accurately handing personal data. As a result, LinkedIn must keep the feature disabled for users in the EU “pending improvements to safeguard its members’ data.”

LinkedIn released a statement on its blog, informing users that:

We routinely look at our features to ensure they are providing value for our members. We are pausing our Mentioned in the News feature for our EU members while we reevaluate its effectiveness. As referenced in the Irish Data Protection Commission’s report, we received useful feedback from our members about the feature and as a result are evaluating the accuracy and functionality of Mentioned in the News for all members.

The company has also linked to a support article to show those who are affected on how to report the matching as incorrect, as well as adjusting their privacy setting to disable “Notifying connections when you’re in the news.” While things aren’t perfect, at least the company has some kind of system in place for that just in case.