Microsoft bought LinkedIn in 2016, a year after LinkedIn had purchased online learning portal Lynda.com. This year, 2019, Microsoft is moving all Lynda.com customers to LinkedIn Learning, a shift it expects to complete before the end of the calendar 2019.
As students and faculty return to school, many are just discovering now that their colleges, universities, and libraries are undertaking this move. But not everyone's on board. Specifically, some libraries are up in arms over a new requirement for library patrons to create a LinkedIn profile to access the LinkedIn Learning/Lynda.com service.
"We're currently upgrading all Lynda.com customers to LinkedIn Learning and plan for this to be completed for all organizations, including enterprises, libraries, colleges, and universities, by the end of 2019," a LinkedIn spokesperson told me this week.
However, the creation of a LinkedIn account to access LinkedIn learning is a requirement for libraries, but not enterprises or schools. For those other groups, it's optional.
"A LinkedIn account is required to access LinkedIn Learning. Profiles help us to authenticate that users are real people and help to ensure we give our members a safe, trusted environment to interact with others and learn. A LinkedIn profile is optional for our corporate and higher education customers as they offer authentication solutions that are very difficult to compromise," the LinkedIn spokesperson said when I asked for clarification.
The American Library Association said earlier this summer that it believed the requirement of a LinkedIn profile "would significantly impair library users' privacy rights." Library users were able to log in to Lynda.com using a library card and a PIN with no other personal information required.
Microsoft isn't backing down, as this LinkedIn Learning blog post from June, entitled "Our Commitment to Libraries," makes clear.
To create a LinkedIn profile to access LinkedIn Learning/Lynda content, "the only action required is to add a first name, last name and email address," the aforementioned spokesperson noted. "Every user has the ability to control their profile and can change their privacy settings. They can also choose not to have their profile searchable on search engines. Any user, including patrons, can change their settings at any time on their Settings and Privacy page.
In addition to citing authentication reasons for the LinkedIn profile requirement, Microsoft also is pitching the creation of a LinkedIn profile as a way to get better curated, customized content. Microsoft also is looking to LinkedIn Learning as a way to potentially upsell users to LinkedIn's Premium Career features, such as InMail, access to who's viewed their profiles and "competitive insights on other job applicants," as this Frequently Asked Questions document about the Lynda.com to LinkedIn Learning migration indicates.
While there's been a criticism of the ease with which people can create fake LinkedIn profiles (see this How-To-Geek story from May 30 for examples), Microsoft is working to weed out fake profiles, as officials noted earlier this week. In a post to the LinkedIn Official blog, Microsoft execs said they're using human review plus artificial intelligence to try to keep the site safe. Officials said they've "taken action" on 21.6 million fake accounts between January and June this year, with the "vast majority" (95 percent) stopped before they were ever posted to LinkedIn.