LinkedIn can be creepier than Facebook

Since I’m currently looking for a job, I find myself on LinkedIn every few days or so. Since LinkedIn is about connecting with people and networking on the Internet in professional ways, I sometimes wander over to the “People You May Know” section at the LinkedIn homepage and skim it for familiar faces. Sometimes I know them, sometimes I barely know them (and certainly not well enough to connect), and sometimes they don’t elicit a memory at all, but lately the recommendations have been getting strange.

The first ones I noticed were former potential roommates and employers, some of them from several years ago. I suspect they imported their entire email contacts list and my email was in it. That’s explainable, and that’d also explain why at least one of my friends keeps getting emails to join LinkedIn despite never having had an account.

But then the recommendations kept getting a little stranger. Apple cofounder Steve Wozniak came up regularly, despite not being in my network (friend of a friend–2nd degree, or friend of a friend of a friend–3rd degree) at all. Craigslist founder Craig Newmark (3rd degree) NaNoWriMo staff members came up after awhile, and I even added a few of them, but I’m not adding Chris Baty no matter how often he comes up (and he still does). Sorry, not enough balls for that.

But the last few days have taken the cake. Scarface, Jonathan Coulton’s assistant, has been one of the first people to show up in my recommendations consistently. Other WTF-worthy recommendations include past National Spelling Bee champions. Seriously, LinkedIn? I’ve never corresponded with these people, nor have I linked you with Twitter at all, nor do I have any mention of JoCo or spelling bees in my profile. What on earth are you thinking?

As ridiculous as Facebook is, at least they stick to recommending people I have zero reason to know.

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