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Topics/tags; Miscellaneous, social media

Like most denizens of the InterWeb, I belong to a variety of social media sites. I don’t spend a lot of time on social media, other than to post my daily musings and, on occasion, to send a message to a friend or colleague. I suppose I could use them more; however, when I do read social media, I find that it consumes a large chunk of my free time [1]. So I generally stay away.

For a long time, my policy has been that current students cannot friend me on Facebook until after they graduate [2]. But I will accept a link from any Grinnell student on LinkedIn. What about other people? I tend to take them on a case-by-case basis. On Facebook, it’s people I know. On LinkedIn, it’s people with whom I am likely to have some professional relationship. I’ll also accept links from faculty at other institutions if it looks like they are active in one of my research areas.

Everyone else? I tend to do a little bit of research.

Which brings me to the experience I’m writing about today. I received a link request from someone who calls themselves Dennis Esseιsαgοe [3]. The name didn’t seem familiar. They are a security analyst. But we have 59 mutual connections.

I wrote to one of those mutual connections. They wrote, Oh, I accepted the link because they also have a link to another Grinnell alum. Hmmm. I wrote to that Grinnell alum. They wrote, I accepted the connection because I assumed they had some affiliation to Grinnell given the number of Grinnell connections they had. I can’t find it now, but when I looked at their education history, I didn’t see a Grinnell connection. And their jobs don’t seem to be in Iowa.

The list of connections also seems strange. A bunch of current Grinnell students. A few recent graduates. Some alums from a decade ago. A few faculty and senior staff members.

Time to ask a few more people.

I received a link request from Dennis Esseιsαgοe, who I don’t think I know. It appears that you are linked. How do you know Dennis? Thanks. SamR.

We have 26 connections from Grinnell but unfortunately I don’t remember who this person is. No, that’s not promising.

We worked at Apple together. I didn’t know him well, he moved to sf around the same time I quit. At least they know the person. But that suggests no real connection.

Oh no, I don’t know this person at all. I just removed them as a connection. I’m sometimes liberal in who I accept if it seems like they’re engineers in SF, in case they just want to network. Okay, I understand that inclination. But that’s not a reason for me to link with him.

I did not know him either but added him because we had a large number of mutuals. That’s a common thread in the responses I received.

It looks like Dennis has some connection to Grinnell… I’ve got about 160 connections in common with him, all Grinnellians. (May have changed names?) Yup, definitely a common thread.

I do believe he is a Grinnell grad. I don’t add to my contacts on linked in unless I know them OR they graduated from Grinnell. Hmmm … I can’t find his last name in the alumni directory. Maybe the previous person is correct that they changed names? I do see that someone with the same last name was a public policy graduate student at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo in 2008.

From my perspective, this looks like a person who is trying to leverage LinkedIn connections to connect to someone in particular at Grinnell. I wonder who their particular goal is. Or perhaps they are just exploring how far they can go in making connections. Either way, it worries me. And no, I’m not going to let them add me to their list of connections. I suppose there’s a small chance that they are associated with Grinnell, but I’m having trouble believing that.

Am I the only one who is this suspicious of connections on LinkedIn? I know that there are people more suspicious than I am; they don’t even join LinkedIn in the first place. But is my suspicion atypical of people who use LinkedIn?

Postscript: You can tell I was obsessed about discovering more about Esselsagoe because I went so far as to find a document which suggested it would have his biography. Unfortunately, it did not.

Postscript: On a completely separate note: Is it time for me to start posting my musings on LinkedIn? This musing might be a good start. Or maybe I’ll wait until tomorrow.

[1] It’s even worse when I’m on Grinnell Plans.

[2] There are a few exceptions, such as friends of my kids who friended me in high school so that we could track what my kids were doing.

[3] Yes, they use the strange letters in their name on LinkedIn. That may be a good security precaution.

Version 1.0 of 2018-07-05.