Facebook and LinkedIn Profile Pictures in the Outlook Social Connector

Recently, in “The Facebook Provider for the Outlook Social Connector, InstantDoc ID 125721, I reviewed the new Facebook provider for the Outlook Social Connector (OSC). I showed how the Facebook provider can retrieve information from Facebook and display it within the OSC when an email or contact is selected in Outlook. This is a great way to have more information about a contact or sender for your immediate access instead of having to log into different sites (Facebook, LinkedIn) to view that information. Figure 1 shows an email I received as part of the YahooGroup called Outlook-users (a good resource for Outlook questions with several MVPs helping). The sender, a Jason Coley, is not in my Friend list in Facebook (or a Connection in LinkedIn) but his profile picture is public for both. The OSC downloads this and shows it in the People Pane.

With the LinkedIn and Facebook providers installed, accessing Outlook emails generates HTTP connections to outlook.linkedinlabs.com and api-11-02.snc4.facebook.com revealed using Process Monitor (formerly of SysInternals.com). The OSC queries social networks using SMTP email addresses located in the To: or Cc: fields of an email message. A hash of the address is created to make the query to prevent exposing the email addresses to packet sniffers.

The OSC doesn’t know whether the sender is a Friend in Facebook or a Connection in LinkedIn. Through information accessed through the provider, the OSC queries the social network and returns what it can. Even if the contact is not a Friend or Connection, public information available with the contact’s email address can be presented.

If the contact is not a Friend, Connection, or otherwise connected to you, the OSC will only display content that has been made public by individual members of the social networks accessed by the OSC. Certainly you and your users should be aware of their privacy configurations on any social networks they use. Also, you might not want to send out resumes with the same email address that exposes an inappropriate Facebook profile picture because the recipient might be using Outlook with the Facebook provider installed.

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