Firstly, congratulations on the new role.

Secondly, if you can, make sure you sort out the abuse process. LinkedIn clearly pay lip service to it.

After the Brexit vote some folk experienced racism on there. A professional networking site and indeed, even before that, many women experienced harassment and unwanted advances from male members who wouldn’t leave them alone. I am guessing it still goes on.

Problems at Scale

What became perfectly clear during both those episodes was LinkedIn didn’t care one bit about abuse. Indeed, after the Brexit vote, I have my own abuse ticket from July that hasn’t been addressed at all.

I was on LinkedIn for years and years. The platform was always a bit clunky, but when abuse reports started to appear and get ignored, through dozens and dozens of female contacts, it was clear that LinkedIn were not there to create a professional network and not there to stand by their platform as a safe place to make professional connections.

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The Charlotte Proudman case in particular showed us that abuse was rife. UK society does not just “tolerate” such abuse, it actively discourages reporting of it and encourages victimisation of both the person being subject to it and any of their supporters.

Proudman’s experience was shattering not by her actions, but because of the floodgates it rightly opened. Women who experienced the same thing as Ms Proudman also came forward to tell their story. They had everything from comments about their appearance to marriage proposals!

What took me and other men by surprise was the scale of the harassment. It was rare for me to converse with a female connection who hadn’t experienced it! Because of the natural selection bias (men won’t experience the same advances from other men — though some inappropriate female content appears in private messaging), the scale was a complete eye opener.

A Step too far…

Still, I am sure you’re there for the development and the Microsoft takeover may or may not significantly useful changes on the horizon. Yet, it takes a long time to change culture and 400 million people is a lot of culture to change.

Personally, I wonder what the focus will be. I find it hard to continue to engage on a platform that doesn’t address problems in its user base. So I don’t.

Office buildings appoint security folk at the front door for a reason. The security of the occupants and users of the building. Yet, LinkedIn made it perfectly clear by their inaction that they didn’t care about the security of their users.

It’s possible in the future that it’ll change. Microsoft may find all the tickets locked in a virtual cupboard and realise what they’ve got. It is a risk for people like me, which depend on such platforms for business and livelihoods, to pull themselves out of a channel on a matter of principle. I see no reason for someone to be made to feel the need to leave LinkedIn due to the level of harassment they witness or experience, that LinkedIn does absolutely nothing about. It hits there livelihoods and job prospects hard. Yet I, and others have had to. It’s LinkedIn saying to us that it’s OK for us to be subject to racism and sexism if you want a job. That’s as good as screaming “Dance boy!”

The foreseeable…

When Microsoft get that balance right, and make the hype match the reality, aka make a site marketed as a professional network into a professional site, it may return to the purpose for which it was created.

Yet, for now, me and my 6 month old, unaddressed abuse ticket won’t be back. I can’t see it happening anytime soon.

Written by

EA, Stats, Math & Code into a fizz of a biz or two. Founder: Automedi & Axelisys. Proud Manc. Citizen of the World. I’ve been busy

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