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“#1 Hunting App” Pealk Indignant at LinkedIn Ban

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“#1 Hunting App” Pealk Indignant at LinkedIn Ban
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Pealk, the company that runs what it calls the “#1 hunting app” for LinkedIn, is in danger of having its app disabled because of LinkedIn’s decision to cut off its API access. The company posted a message to its website stating that as of June 26, the app will no longer be available. Pealk’s messaged said that it was extremely surprised by LinkedIn’s decision, and that it believes the action contradicts LinkedIn’s recent moves toward more open API access for developers.

LinkedIn has responded with a statement that makes clear it believes Pealk was abusing its API access:

We have an ecosystem of 60,000 developers who access the LinkedIn platform everyday as part of our open developer program. We regularly monitor the developers of this program to ensure they are following our terms of use. In this case, this developer is in clear violation of LinkedIn’s terms of use and is abusing the guidelines we’ve put in place to protect our members’ data. They were notified in advance of this shut off, but have still not complied with our terms of service.

It’s unfortunate that LinkedIn can’t be more specific about the nature of Pealk’s infraction. LinkedIn’s API Terms of Use is full of potential violations, such as storing member data without consent and using robots or spider applications to index LinkedIn content.

The Pealk app is a recruiting app that reorganizes LinkedIn data so that recruiters can easily track potential recruits. It allows the grouping of “targets” into folders for better organization of LinkedIn profiles. Take a look at the company’s introduction video below to get a sense of what Pealk’s software integrates LinkedIn content:

The most likely violation that Pealk is guilty of is the one that prohibits allowing “any third party, including other users, to see information obtained from another user’s LinkedIn network or through another user’s view of our Website or the Content.” The Pealk website describes a feature it calls Interaction Tracker as one that allows users to export their “interactions” to other customer relationship management (CRM) software. If Pealk uses LinkedIn to communicate with potential recruits, then exporting that communication would seem to violate LinkedIn’s API terms.

One other interesting violation that LinkedIn might be invoking is the one that bans using “the APIs in an Application that competes with products or services offered by us.” The Smart Messages feature for the Pealk app is one that allows users to customize form messages to send out to recruits. This service might conflict somewhat with LinkedIn’s new Targeted Status Updates, a feature which rolled out this week. Pealk also has a Key Analytics feature that monitors users’ LinkedIn metrics. That feature could conflict with the “follower statistics” page now located on LinkedIn Company Pages.

Whatever the case is, Pealk is maintaining its innocence. In response to LinkedIn’s official statement, Pealk issued a follow-up statement this afternoon that includes the veiled threat of legal action:

Pealk considers that [LinkedIn's] statements are entirely false: we have been entertaining constructive and almost permanent discussions with LinkedIn for more than eight weeks and LinkedIn never reported to us a single violation of their terms of use. It goes without saying that Pealk would have been fully available to cooperate with LinkedIn to adapt the app to LinkedIn’s terms of use to the extent necessary; however, we were once again at no single point informed of such necessity by LinkedIn.

In this context, statements from LinkedIn such as those quoted above are prejudicial to Pealk, which therefore reserves its rights to initiate any necessary actions to preserve its interests.

As LinkedIn pointed out in its statement, it has thousands of developers working with its platform, and the company has recently been promoting even more development work using its APIs. It has even been highlighting third-party development that uses its API through its official blog. Just this week HootSuite announced the implementation of LinkedIn’s Company Pages into its software, and today an iPad app called Hookflash launched, which organizes LinkedIn connection information into a digital rolodex to allow calling and messaging.

The full nature of the dispute between Pealk and LinkedIn will undoubtedly come to light over the next few days. It will be an interesting glimpse into what LinkedIn considers a breach of its API terms. And what LinkedIn does next, if anything, will demonstrate how the company deals with indignant developers.

“#1 Hunting App” Pealk Indignant at LinkedIn Ban
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