After Backlash, LinkedIn Brings Back Contact Export Feature

LinkedIn has decided to–at least temporarily–go back on a plan to do away with a useful contact exporting tool. The popular feature was disabled and replaced with a much more inconvenient alternative.

The tool in question is called a CSV connections download tool, and it allows users to quickly download other LinkedIn users’ contact info. With the tool, users could instantly download and save the contact details of their connections that they have on the networking service.

As VentureBeat reported, the tool quietly disappeared Thursday. After some pretty serious user backlash, LinkedIn announced through a blog post that the company had reinstated the tool.

“This change is also part of a larger and ongoing effort by LinkedIn to make the scraping of member data by third parties more difficult.”

By disabling the tool, LinkedIn hoped to keep its users’ data from being scraped by third parties. Instead of the contact details of your LinkedIn connections being immediately available to you, you would have to request an archive of the data.

The company also wanted to make the process of exporting contact information simpler. While LinkedIn did achieve simplification, it cost users in another way. The simplified process could take up to 72 hours, which bothered many users of the service. LinkedIn users apparently value a speedy tool over a simple one.

“Our goal is to make as much of your data, including connection data, available within minutes. We will keep the CSV connections tool available until we can reach that goal (some other data items will be available in an extended archive that may take longer to process). We will then turn this tool off again, as part of our ongoing anti-scraping efforts.”

The tool will be turned off again once LinkedIn has found a convenient, less abuse-prone way of contact exporting. As Business Insider notes, the future tool will likely require you to request an archive, but will only take minutes, instead of 72 hours.

“We are also committed to ensuring members have control of what data can be exported by their connections. In the coming weeks and months you can expect to see us take additional steps to increase that control and to make the scraping of member data by third parties more difficult.”

In the company blog post. Vice President of Product Management, Michael Korcuska, apologized for the inconvenience and promised LinkedIn would do better in the future.

[Photo by Stephen Lam / Getty Images]