Soaring engagement creates a communications dilemma
LinkedIn’s latest transparency report shows instances of abuse and harassment have increased an astonishing 1000% year on year.
While the focus is often on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, and what they intend to do about the problems many people face on those platforms, LinkedIn has snuck in under the radar.
As with most social channels, COVID 19 has been kind to LinkedIn.
While it took an initial revenue hit this time last year, it has since recovered well, and usage has surged amongst locked down white-collar workers.
Satya Nadella, Microsoft CEO, earnings call February 2021
“We once again saw record levels of engagement across the platform, as LinkedIn’s nearly 740 million members use the network to connect, learn, and find new opportunities. Sessions increased by 30%. Conversations were up 48%
LinkedIn’s advertising business had a record quarter, accounting for more than a third of LinkedIn’s total revenue. LinkedIn Marketing Solutions was up over 50%, as advertisers increasingly turn to the platform as the trusted way to reach professionals ready to do business.”
Although, sadly, as user growth and engagement escalates, problems scale correspondingly.
Abuse levels shot up
There were 157,108 pieces of content removed because of harassment or abuse between July and December 2020, the latest period provided in the report.
For the same period in 2019, that number stood at 15,635.
All categories of abuse have seen numbers increase, while a new one, misinformation, reared its ugly head for the first time, seeing 110,742 pieces of content removed.
“We saw big increases in the volume of content removed in a number of categories, including misinformation and violent or graphic content, driven in part by world events that triggered polarizing content, such as U.S. elections and COVID-19.”
More personal but less safe
LinkedIn’s reputation as a business-only social media has begun to fray at the edges.
Members now use LinkedIn for more personal communications, and as that has grown, so have the number of user posts regarding beliefs and lives outside of work.
Potentially drawing LinkedIn down Facebook’s rabbit hole – as users talk about more personal issues, there are more areas for contention. Thus, disputes and discussions spark up that have the potential to head into ugly territory.
On a smaller scale, LinkedIn did broaden the definition of harassment, which may have impacted the numbers slightly.
“We saw more content that violates our policies, such as misinformation, hate speech, and violent or graphic content. We’ve expanded the “Harassment” category to “Harassment or Abusive” to include harassment as well as other abusive or uncivil content that violates our Professional Community Policies and User Agreement.”
One win for LinkedIn
There has been some good news.
Fake account creation is down, while LinkedIn managed to block 98.7% of all fake accounts before they could get onto the platform – 33.7 million of them. Fake profiles are a big deal for LinkedIn because once someone is your connection, they have access to elements of your data.
Definitions of abuse
LinkedIn defines abuse in three ways:
Spam. Refers to harmful, disruptive or abusive content and messages.
Can be reported by clicking on the … More button in the top right of the screen and clicking on report this post.
Phishing and scams. When fraudsters sent emails or messages pretending to be more legitimate individuals or companies, their end goal is to defraud you.
Profiles. These are duplicate accounts, profiles on LinkedIn reporting inaccurate information or fake profiles.
LinkedIn is trying to limit the number of abusive posts or interactions, with its strategy centring on:
- Information. LinkedIn will tell you what action it took after you report some content. This feature is currently available in the U.S, France and Canada but should be rolled out worldwide soon.
- Reminders. Its professional community policies have been strengthened, and LinkedIn will show a short message that reminds users to be nice at their next log in.
- Warning. If you are sent an inappropriate message, you’ll now get an option to report or dismiss. But you’ll still have to read the message first.
- Improved policies. LinkedIn has strengthened its community policies to make it ‘clear’ that abuse isn’t welcome.
Additionally, LinkedIn recently updated its Community Policies to focus on four core ideas: be safe, be trustworthy, be professional and respect other’s rights and follow the law.
The platform stated it’ll be more transparent on what happens after content is reported and has asked users to report anything they don’t like.