Feeling a bit paranoid, really…

So I have a profile on LinkedIn which was useful for my last jobhunt, so I’ve made sure to be keeping an eye on that site for the current hunt.

I’ve found the site is a cool way to find old friends that I had lost track of.  Sometimes I’ll find them because they’re linked to another friend; sometimes they’ll be suggested by the site because we share several second-degree connections or because we attended the same schools or worked at the same places.

But every now and then the site will suggest “you may know…” and I can’t figure out how on earth it knew that I would know this person.  Today’s examples include…

  • My MOTHER-IN-LAW, who just started a profile and only has one connection.  We don’t share any alma maters, none of the rest of that side of the family is linked to me, and we don’t share the same last name.  We live in different cities…
  • A professor from a class I took once – not in my normal subject field…
  • An old friend who lives on a different continent, attended entirely different schools from me, works in a totally different field, and has only a few people on her contacts lists, none of whom are people I know.  My friendship with this person is because her husband once worked with my ex-husband, and because her little sister and I were on debate teams in the same state back in high school.  Not the sort of thing you’d expect LinkedIn to know!

I can’t think of any mechanism that would let LinkedIn see my personal address book or anything like this – but this ability to find people who are connected to me in ways that would be quite obscure from a data point of view is sort of freaking me out…

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