My LinkedIn story
from dark patterns to undeserved lockouts

I first joined LinkedIn around 2006/2007. Fresh out of college, I was working my first significant professional job as an analyst in the asset-backed securities group at PNC Capital Markets.

To set the scene, LinkedIn at that time had a reputation of being only for those looking for work. The other thing to know is that the culture at an investment bank is quite the stringent hierarchy. I was just starting, a small fish in a vast pond. Interactions with seniors were guided by unwritten rules: speak only when addressed and double, even triple-check every email for perfection.

Despite not being in the job market, I joined LinkedIn, driven mainly by sheer curiosity. Little did I know, but there were dark patterns lurking within, waiting to surprise me.

The very next day, while engrossed in spreadsheet work in my cubicle, a voice remarked, "Looking for another job K. Did?" (An endearing moniker given by my senior analysts, a playful nod to P. Diddy.)

Confused, I responded, “What? Why would you think that?”

“Don’t play coy; we got your LinkedIn invite.”

“My what??” My heart dropped, and it hit me — LinkedIn had blitzed my entire contact list.

I mean everyone—from my temperamental managing director, the late Reggie Imamura (who would chop the desk if you forgot a comma in your email), to my senior managing director, Terry Begley. Awesome guy, but the last thing I wanted was for him to think I was planning an exit.

They even emailed Bill Demchak, now CEO of PNC. I had never spoken with him directly, except for maybe a greeting after his orientation speech to our training class. I immediately imagined him calling Terry: “Why the $%#* is your analyst spamming me on company email?”

It was that day I swore off LinkedIn. For years after, I stood out as the unusual professional without a LinkedIn account.

Fast forward to this year, I decided to give LinkedIn another shot. With Microsoft's acquisition and its subsequent image rehab, it felt time.

As I populated my profile, I found the platform's rigidity problematic due to my work history spanning the US and Japan. To sidestep issues, I toggled my address setting as their own help article suggested.

Yet, the next day — account suspended!

I contemplated quitting for good, but decided to give it one last attempt by reaching out to support. Kudos to LinkedIn; they resolved it.

But here's the thing: this experience underscored the importance of backing up everything I post on LinkedIn to my personal website. The ordeal of spending hours detailing my profile only to have it locked was a real reminder that on such platforms, you don't truly possess your data.

Another lesson? This saga shapes operations at Ambiki. I have a profound disdain for dark patterns. Thus, we always go the extra mile to protect our users — even if it occasionally hamstrings our sales and marketing team. For example, we abstain from third-party cookies and err on the conservative side regarding HIPAA compliance, which is never black and white.

I'm enjoying LinkedIn; hopefully there are no other surprises hiding in the shadows.