Why are there so many false profiles and spam postings on LinkedIn?
A simple answer is, “To con the gullible and naive out of their hard-earned money”, but is LinkedIn doing enough to protect those conned?
For those of you unaware of LinkedIn, it is a networking website with 161 million members worldwide. You can join and set-up your profile, including your CV, and ‘link’ to many others seeking knowledge, ideas and opportunities. A strong part of the site is the ‘Groups’ section; there are over 1 million of them dealing with any subject you can think of. Personally I am only a member of freelance writers groups, so I make these comments particularly with them in mind, however this problem could involve many other groups.
Scam and Spam
There seems to be a rise in the amount of scam and spam comments being posted on group discussion boards on LinkedIn. The policing of these comments is the responsibility of group managers and the group members. LinkedIn supply a button for flagging inappropriate comments and posts for the attention of the manager, so it’s down to them to remove the offending post. I am not sure what LinkedIn can do to help with this problem. Hopefully at some point they will be able to, as it is an escalating, frustrating and annoying problem for members of the groups; it can also have graver consequences for the naive and gullible.
However, this said, there are some worrying aspects of LinkedIn that spammers and scammers are using that the company must be able to do something about. It should be made harder for the scum to get onto LinkedIn in the first place; therefore making it impossible to get into group discussions.
No one can join LinkedIn without a profile, a fact. You do not have to have reams of information to complete a profile, but the more information contained in a profile the less likely it is to be false. Along with your profile you can upload a profile picture, not necessary but helpful to convince others you are a real professional person. A few months ago a lot of the bogus profiles showed photo’s of pretty Asian women, now there seems a trend to pretty Caucasian business women. With the emergence of
reverse image searching it has made it easier to trace false profile photo’s, if you are that way inclined, which I am, (Yes Gordon it is addictive). Two types of this search are available through Tineye (thank you Doreen Martel) or Google Images (thank you Gordon Williams).
Surely if this type of filter is applied at the point when an image is uploaded it can stop stolen images being displayed, it will also give LinkedIn a warning to block the profile before it is created.
Over the past few weeks I have found over ten false profiles by doing this, one image was used on four different profiles. All have been reported to LinkedIn as misrepresentation. I have also contacted LinkedIn two or three times about this problem through their feedback link; I have never received a reply or follow-up to any of my reports.
Reporting Spam to LinkedIn
This brings me onto my second concern, which may be far more worrying. The lack of the ‘Flag’ or ‘Inappropriate’ buttons where they normally appear. These are the buttons that give you the chance of reporting something untoward to the company.
I have viewed one profile without a ‘Flag’ button and several group comments without an ‘Inappropriate’ button. The question is “How does a button set within a LinkedIn program not appear on your screen without someone having the ability to interfere with LinkedIn’s website?”
I do not know if these issues would really cause a mass exodus by LinkedIn users as that would depend on how widespread these problems were and in what way it was affecting them professionally. However, does it mean, that if something is just an irritant, rather than something fatal, there is no reason deal with it.
If peoples’ faith in LinkedIn is damaged, maybe the company will do something about it but, surely such a successful company will not want it to go so far before taking action.
It is also true that spammers and scammers work relentlessly at their ‘jobs’ and will find another way to get around whatever is put in their way. Why should it be made easier for them by not trying to throw a few bumps in the way. I, like many other people, enjoy being around and associated with LinkedIn, but if it becomes more annoying to be part of it than advantageous then I will not bother to be a member, and my guess is others will make the same decision.
So hopefully if LinkedIn pick up on my hashtags on Twitter, someone there will have a look at these increasing issues and try to eradicate them, or just send some replies to my comments.
Reverse Photo Search
This is a great way of checking those suspicious photo’s. Go to Google Images and press the camera in the search box then paste the image URL into the new search box; on Tineye you just paste the URL into the search box.
If there are any results Tineye tell you how many matches there are and link to the URL’s; likewise on Google Images you get a list of matches and links. Google also show similar photo’s which sometimes means you will see more doctored copies of the original and where they on the internet.
In the below image you can see where the thief has cropped an area directly around the face, unfortunately for them, the wall decorations in the background are still there. The large image came from the website www.HeSheFun.com, the insert from a bogus LinkedIn profile.
- LinkedIn and the New Age of Influence (contentmarketinginstitute.com)
- Cybercrims dump email for irresistible Twitter, Facebook spam (go.theregister.com)
- Is the LinkedIn premium service worth it? (snfornewbies.com)
- LinkedIn: Why your profile never gets views, and how you can fix it (case study) (zdnet.com)
- LinkedIn – So Misunderstood (haroldlshaw.com)
- Disconnecting at LinkedIn? (measuresconsulting.wordpress.com)