LinkedIn and Facebook are two of the leading social media platforms with huge user bases and unmatched reach worldwide. It is only natural that many business owners who venture into web scraping and data acquisition want to scrape data from LinkedIn and Facebook. They are typically inclined towards scraping these sites and usually overlook the other options out there.
We agree that Facebook and LinkedIn have their monopoly in the social media space which makes them the go-to sources for anyone looking to extract social media data. However, there are certain issues which render LinkedIn and Facebook scraping not feasible.
Why can’t you scrape LinkedIn/Facebook?
1. They disallow bots in their robots.txt file
Both LinkedIn and Facebook have a massive amount of user-generated content. And they are not happy with sharing this data with anonymous businesses who might be looking to improve their operations using the same. Robots.txt is a file used by websites to communicate with web crawling bots about how they (bots) can access the data available on the website. Unfortunately, LinkedIn and Facebook deny access to bots in their robots file which means, you cannot scrape data from them by any automated means.
2. Legal complications
When a website blocks access to crawlers, the ethical thing to do is leave that site and look for alternative sources. However, if you proceed with scraping LinkedIn/Facebook ignoring the robots file rules, be warned that they have been quite aggressive towards illegitimate scraping in the past. LinkedIn’s legal battle with HiQ is popular and you probably don’t want to get into something like that when there are alternate sources for the same kind of data.
Alternate sources to scrape for LinkedIn and Facebook
Just because LinkedIn or Facebook can’t be crawled, it should not discourage you from extracting social media data for your business intelligence applications. There are many other alternate sources for both LinkedIn and Facebook that you can safely crawl.
LinkedIn Alternatives to scrape
CareerBuilder is an online job portal with a considerable market share in the United States, Europe and Asia where they also have offices. If you are looking for job postings and company profiles, CareerBuilder is a reliable source you can scrape freely without legal worries.
Monster boasts of being one of the global leaders when it comes to connecting people to jobs. The company offers its services in more than 40 countries, with some of the broadest and innovative career search, management, talent acquisition and recruitment capabilities. Monster is a great alternative to LinkedIn.
Indeed is a global job search engine which is currently available in over 60 countries and 28 languages. Apart from direct job postings, Indeed also aggregates job postings from thousands of websites including HR firms, job boards, company websites and more. If you are looking for job data, Indeed makes for a great LinkedIn alternative.
Facebook alternatives to scrape
Twitter is one of the undisputed leaders in the social media space and can be a great data source for brand monitoring, sentiment analysis and a host of other text mining use cases. Twitter data is available via their API and is free to access if you have the right tools to automate it.
Instagram, although owned by Facebook, provides access to their data via API which can be accessed on fair usage terms. Instagram also makes for a great data source for brand monitoring, trend spotting and similar applications for brands looking to connect with their customers on a deeper level.
Reddit is a social media portal with a huge user base and wide range of topics in the form of subreddits. You can get meaningful insights by extracting Reddit data using web scraping no matter what industry or niche your business belongs to.
Looking to extract data from social media portals?
While extracting data from LinkedIn and Facebook is out of question at the moment, there are a host of social media websites out there which might even be more relevant to your industry or niche. All you have to do is take out the time to research. Feel free to reach out if you are looking to extract data from social media portals.