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Everything You Need To Know About LinkedIn's Plan To Take Over Your Email

"We will never betray you."

Posted on October 23, 2013, at 6:19 p.m. ET

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Here's what LinkedIn Intro does: Using tech from a company called Rapportive, which was acquired by LinkedIn last year, it puts a LinkedIn bar, with the sender's job information, above emails you receive. It does this by automatically scanning all your email and then inserting the bar into the actual messages — that's how it it is able to display in iOS's default mail app, which does not support plugins or extensions.

But this — this! — is the first thing you see if you go to its landing page and read LinkedIn's "Privacy Pledge:"

Your trust is the most precious thing we have, and we will never betray you.
Uh, who was talking about betrayal? What does LinkedIn think we're worried about, exactly? Strange thing to lead with, unless: ah, right. LinkedIn recently went through a major data breach, and is being accused, in a lawsuit, of "accessing their email accounts without permission" and "harvesting the addresses of everyone they have ever emailed."

In addition, before you install this, granting LinkedIn access to your email account, here's what you need to know about Rapportive. Part of the pitch here is that mobile email is on the rise, which is true, and that it's harder to quickly look up context on your phone, which is true as well. Also true: Rapportive, which up until this point was a Gmail plugin, found its usefulness drastically diminished after a Gmail redesign exiled it from the message composition window. So it sort of has to fly a banner for mobile email dominance.

And according to its promotional materials, this version of Rapportive's tech only shows LinkedIn information — no Facebook or Twitter. Also, it won't show you anything at all in what sounds like an awful lot of situations:

If the sender's email address does not exist on the sender's LinkedIn profile, then we will not include Intro. In this case, you can still tap on Intro, and we'll automatically search for the sender's name on LinkedIn. This very often finds the right profile. If the sender's email address looks like it belongs to an organization (e.g., then we will not include Intro. If the contents of the email are very long, then we will not include Intro. (Currently, the limit is 128KB.)
So, understood another way, the plugin is a great way to put...LinkedIn ads in your email? To...basically move email signatures to the top of some messages? To...hand over your most precious data to LinkedIn, which they can use to woo marketers? To ensure that LinkedIn can use your email use to boost its daily active user numbers? Whatever the case, do not worry: They Will Never Betray You.

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