A not so well thought-out feature – or defect – allows any LinkedIn user to indicate the company they work for has acquired, merged with or become a division of another company without any third-party verification whatsoever. Worse, when a user falsely claims company A has e.g. purchased company B, this will actually show up on company B’s public profile as such. Needless to say, this could cause quite some confusion.
For examples, head on over to the LinkedIn profiles of Yahoo! and Google, which are both apparently owned by a Pakistani web hosting firm with about 10 employees. Or take a look at the public LinkedIn profile of Internet commerce giant eBay, which is seemingly a subsidiary to collector community and marketplace operator Colnect, whose founder and sole employee Amir Wald tipped us about the ‘feature’.
Update: fixed now
The only thing you need to make false pretenses about the relationship of a company with another, is indicate you work there as well as obtain full access to the profile settings – I couldn’t make Google the parent company of say, Skype, even if I pretended to work there because I don’t have a valid e-mail address and/or the necessary rights.
But you can definitely make any company you have editing rights to the owner or subsidiary of any other company without as much as a hitch.
All you need to do is go to the part of the LinkedIn website where you can edit a company’s profile and click on the ‘Related Companies’ menu item. There, you can indicate your employer – true or not – is a Division, Subsidiary, Parent, Acquisition or Merger of any company that has a profile on the popular business social network.
Always dreamed of owning Apple or Microsoft? Here’s your chance to pretend you do, and it’ll take you only about 5 seconds.
We can’t be sure how long this has been possible already, but we’ve contacted the company about it, so we expect to see a quick fix to this anomaly.
Update: fixed now
In the meantime, please behave yourselves. Okay? Okay.