The Blue Dog Scientific Blog: Hazards & Pitfalls of LinkedIn.

Hazards & Pitfalls of LinkedIn.

In recent days I have received many messages in my LinkedIn inbox from LinkedIn friends-in-need.  

Two in particular stand out. These both pertain to serial personal attacks which the correspondents have had the misfortune to find themselves on the receiving end of.

One is of a very serious nature indeed and involves the perpetrator messaging the target's LinkedIn contacts to seriously undermine their business with malicious lies. The other was from a LinkedIn user who has been palpably upset and shaken by public attacks on their character.

May I politely, but firmly, remind LinkedIn Users everywhere that:
  • this a professional network and that, in this context, the dictionary definitions of the word include:
  1. characterized by or conforming to the technical or ethical standards of a profession.
  2.  exhibiting a courteous, conscientious, and generally businesslike manner in the workplace;
  • we should not behave any differently here to when in a room full of strangers or attending business meetings in "real life";
  • we do not leave politeness, good manners or any other social norms at the door when we log into LinkedIn;
  • everything we do here is a permanent digital record;
  • we should think very carefully about what we've written before we hit the send button;
  • the portrait of ourselves we present here has lasting consequences for our own reputations, careers, businesses and prospects;
  • if we come across as unprofessional here this does have an impact on real life selves;
  • laws around harassment, libel, defamation and malicious communications still apply to our online activities;
  • robust, mature, heated and critical debates and discussions are part and parcel of professional life, but personal insults, character assassination and deliberate baiting are not;
May I further suggest to LinkedIn Users everywhere that:
  • we do not accept unprofessional behaviors on LinkedIn as a cultural norm;
  • we do not bear silent witness when we see professional people subject to messages which are clearly personal attacks;
  • we support the targets by politely, maturely but firmly pointing out to aggressors that we have found their remarks to be unprofessional or objectionable and ask then to moderate their behavior;
  • we take such actions collectively;
May I thirdly use this opportunity to educate and alert LinkedIn Users everywhere to the facts that:
  • LinkedIn is a reflection of the real world and there are some very bad people here;
  • with so many businesses gathered in one place and so much money at stake, it attracts criminal elements like the proverbial flies to the proverbial sh*t;
  • LinkedIn is a haven for a large number of world class confidence tricksters, fraudsters, phishers, scammers;
  • Corporate espionage is rife on LinkedIn, from mystery shoppers to monitoring of communications to hacking data;
  • LinkedIn is a haven for thieves of both personal and business identities;
  • a very significant proportion of the 360 million "people" that LinkedIn likes to point out are here are fake, misrepresentations, bogus or stolen identities;
  • many people having duplicate accounts so they can operate incognito too;
  • electronic avatars hide all sorts of ulterior motives which we can not discern;
  • we have never met most of our connections in person and have never looked into the white of their eyes;
  • we have no visual or audio queues for the modes of communication we use here, no facial expressions, no body language, no tone of voice so we cannot read people on LinkedIn;
  • there is a very serious problem with plagiarism on LinkedIn and a number of authors are in fact in large part regurgitating other people's works to gain authority and influence for themselves;
  • those people and businesses who are the most naive about the negative aspects of LinkedIn are marking themselves out as obvious targets.
While I realize these remarks are unpalatable and not nice to hear, they are nevertheless the facts and it is about time someone said them explicitly.

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