LinkedIn Axing Clever But Ill-Advised “Intro” Feature And Slidecast Product

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LinkedIn is axing its feature that intercepted emails to iOS devices to inject them with information from the site. The announcement was made via email to customers today, where the company detailed steps on removing the feature if users had enabled it.

“We strive to deliver product experiences that delight our members and add value to their professional lives,” reads an email sent to LinkedIn user Nicholas Shulman. “This sometimes means shutting down certain products or features to focus on the most relevant offerings for our members.”

LinkedIn has also put up a blog post about shutting down the feature.

“We are making large, long-term investments on a few big bets, and in order to make them successful, we need to concentrate on fewer things,” a LinkedIn spokesperson told TechCrunch. “With that in mind, we’ve taken a look at our product offerings and made the decision to shut down Intro, Slidecast as well as older versions of our iPad and iPhone apps.”

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Slidecast was an audio presentation tool and that will be shut down on April 30th. LinkedIn is also shutting down versions of its iOS app that support versions older than 6.0 as of February 18th.

LinkedIn says that it’s retiring Intro for iPhone on March 7th and provides a list of instructions to ‘uninstall’ Intro. The notice also points out that you’ll be unable to send or receive email from your enabled email accounts until you uninstall Intro, highlighting the invasive nature of the feature that caused us to throw up a red flag about it when it was launched.

Essentially, Intro passed all of your emails through an intermediary proxy server run by LinkedIn. This server opened the mail, injected LinkedIn profile information and then sent it along to you. All of this was opt-in of course, but we pointed out that adding an intermediary server that modified the contents of your email was a Very Bad Idea capital letters.

There was simply too little benefit gained from having a link to a LinkedIn profile in your email to justify the additional security risk of passing every email through a proxy server.

Though we were clear to state that we believed LinkedIn had the best of intentions — to provide a better experience for their users — they didn’t think it through to the customer stage.

Intro was a clever engineering hack that that produced a nifty result, but it should never have been shipped out to the public. And now it’s being axed.

Here are the instructions for removing Intro, from Shulman’s email:

  • From your iPhone home screen, tap the iPhone Settings app.
  • Tap the General section. If you weren’t taken to the main page of your iPhone settings, tap the navigation arrow in the top left until you get back to the main settings page.
  • Scroll down and tap the Profiles section.
  • Tap all profiles that start with Intro to remove. It’s important to remove all of them.
  • To verify that your previous mail accounts are turned on, return to iPhone Settings, tap “Mail, Contacts, and Calendar” then tap on your mail account. Make sure the Mail switch is toggled to green for “On”.

Image Credit: Sheila Scarborough