20 August 2019 marks the fifth day I have been in LinkedIn jail, where my account is being reviewed for having broken some mysterious rule. I verified my identity immediately upon recognizing my account was suspended, I have done nothing wrong, and yet here I sit waiting for some magical decision by someone in LinkedIn’s mass bureaucracy to allow me back into my account and professional network. In the sparse emails received from LinkedIn, I learned that I had been placed in LinkedIn jail because of hate speech; this is where the paradigms of social media need correction.
On 18 August 2019, I sent the following message:
“What specifically about this message is “Hate speech?” Nothing in the ambiguous policies declares what “Hate speech” is, no definition, no clear line of demarcation; yet, I am being singled out from all the other responses for “Hate speech.” Interesting peek into social media, LinkedIn specifically, snowflake melting syndrome. I am aghast to see this behavior leveled against me. Clearly define “Hate speech!”
I have asked for an explanation regarding how the above violates the user agreement, the posting policies, and the rules of LinkedIn, all to no avail. This comment was posted to a report regarding Representative Rashida Harbi Tlaib (D), and her continued flaunting of American Tax Law added to her hubris, individual ambition, and avarice, shown at every event. Except that some snowflake on LinkedIn has the power to place me in LinkedIn jail over a comment they disagree with politically.
The arbitrary actions by LinkedIn is a problem; people’s livelihoods are wrapped up in their LinkedIn profiles. I write articles and post them to LinkedIn on a myriad of topics to engage conversation and drive business to my consulting firm. I am not a 30,000-person networker on LinkedIn. My professional network includes many of those I have worked with professionally across the last two decades and 26-moves in the United States. I do accept invitations from veterans, unemployed people, and associates I meet who need a hand up. I employ my professional network to help others.
All of my articles, but especially the articles discussing politics, religion, the VA, and elected officials are carefully written, sourced, packaged to present ideas, solutions, and explain beyond a single post why something is the way it is. I have never had any problem in the almost two decades I have been a member of LinkedIn. I don’t Facebook as that entire platform is heavily biased against new ideas and changes in thinking. I do not Tweet on the Twitter platform as that platform remains useless, and the ties that bind and gag on Facebook are the same ties that bind and gag on Twitter. I have accounts on both but rarely use them. Hence, my social media is limited to LinkedIn, and now I am left to wonder if maybe I should be changing this as well.
Where is the appeals board for the decision to close access to my business and my personal LinkedIn accounts? Who has the authority to close access? Why does this person have this access? Why can a single snowflake melting be the reason any social media account is placed into access limbo? All these questions and more the elected officials should have been asking in the committee meetings on social media, yet the items were never addressed; why? Where are the warnings and the opportunity to discuss differences in opinion between LinkedIn and the user?
I have heard discussed on LinkedIn multiple times regarding how too many LinkedIn accounts are fraudulent, or the owners are there to cause trouble; was the person reporting my comments as “hostile, hate speech” also investigated for veracity? If not, why? In more carefully reading the new LinkedIn User Agreement and the policies and rules documents, I have been amazed at the fake account language, and I would presume that both parties should be investigated when a claim of “hate speech” is reported. I would presume that LinkedIn is more interested in getting to the truth and ferreting out that trolls, the hacks, the criminals, and the dregs of society, rather than giving honest people a hard time. LinkedIn, what is the answer moving forward?
Here are five potential solutions:
- Before shutting down access, send an alert to both users in disagreement, investigate both users for content and appropriate user agreement adherence, look at the content posted, the threads, and evaluate both on professional merit. Then communicate with both parties the decision. Your platform is neutral ground for expressions of personal opinion, and Freedom of Speech means the “yammer heads and trolls” get their say within reason. For example, the legal bounds of Free Speech as set forth by the Supreme Court.
- Filter out the miscreants and fake accounts. I do not know how many times I have been attacked on various threads by an account that is there one day and gone the next. I was forced to submit my government-issued ID to prove I am a real person. When investigating accusations are both users required to verify through government-issued ID their reality? If not, why is this not standard practice to aid in eliminating erroneous accounts causing trouble?
- Put into the user agreements clear, concise, and easily followed language regarding where the limits are in speech. I know, this should be obvious to professional adults. But, the necessity is evident due to the miscreants and malefactors currently residing on LinkedIn, who are abusing LinkedIn rules, regulations, and agreements for personal satisfaction.
- No single person should have the power to harm another for personal gain. From the time something is reported to LinkedIn, to the time action on a user’s account is taken by LinkedIn there should be communication between both parties and a neutral party at LinkedIn discussing the accusation, proving the account is real and detailing what is happening. Specifying the penalties, how long any penalties will last, and how to appeal the decision. Barring this type of process, the abuse of LinkedIn will continue and harm LinkedIn, not the users.
- Start holding false account owners responsible for the damage they do to LinkedIn’s brand. I have several accounts in my professional network that have proven to be false but only after engaging in business with the user. False accounts are very frustrating, wasting my time and resources, and doing damage to LinkedIn’s reputation. Why doesn’t the user creation process have a veracity checker using government-issued ID, biometrics, or some other technologically powered method to weed out the charlatans? What is LinkedIn doing to protect themselves from the hacks and trolls after an account is discovered to be false, or mass owned by a troll?
20 August 2019 – Before completing this article, an email was received, part of that message is copied below:
“We’ve reviewed your appeal. Based on the information you provided and if you agree to abide by LinkedIn’s Terms of Service: https://www.linkedin.com/legal/user-agreement, we’ll grant this appeal. You can agree to abide by our Terms of Service by replying to this email with your explicit consent.
Please note, that LinkedIn expects all members to behave in a professional manner when engaging on the platform. Should this account violate our terms in the future, we may restrict the account again. Any future violations of our Terms could result in a permanent restriction.
To learn more about what is and is not acceptable on LinkedIn, please review LinkedIn’s Professional Community Policies: https://www.linkedin.com/help/linkedin/answer/34593.”
I have responded. Since I have done nothing wrong, have never abused LinkedIn’s rules, regulations, and user agreement, and I do not plan to in the future, I remain appalled at my treatment by LinkedIn and will continue to search for a LinkedIn alternative. The lack of clarification, the lack of action, and the disgusting lack of reply to my questions are beyond the pale, and if LinkedIn does not change, I will. The power of social media to block, harm, and restrict without cause and justification must cease, and I do not care how much money George Soros pumps into social media to demand the social media platforms obeisance to his personal agenda.
To have the final word, the following was received announcing I have been released from LinkedIn Jail:
“However, please be advised that this is your final warning regarding abuses on the LinkedIn site. If your account is reported again after today’s date, your LinkedIn account will be subject to termination.”
LinkedIn has concluded that I did nothing wrong, but if another snowflake reports me, I will lose my LinkedIn professional network. They threaten me, but cannot answer simple questions, propose solutions that can protect me, or even engage in polite conversation.
America, social media’s pernicious, and self-inflated power over us must cease. LinkedIn, I will either find a new platform for professionals or will cease all contact on your platform.
Threatening me without cause and justification is the last straw!
© 2019 M. Dave Salisbury
All Rights Reserved
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