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LinkedIn: Member First No More

July 15, 2013 11:58 pm Published by

By Matthew Weaver  Google+  View Matthew Weaver's profile on LinkedIn

LinkedIn (LNKD) culture according to Jeff Weiner:

So our culture has five dimensions: transformation, integrity, collaboration, humor, and results. And there are six values: members first; relationships matter; be open, honest and constructive; demand excellence; take intelligent risks; and act like an owner. And by far the most important one is members first. We as a company are only as valuable as the value we create for our members.—New York Times, November 11, 2012.


And just how does this work out in reality? Well, the facts ain’t pretty.

Less than two months later LinkedIn implemented SWAM, which has devastated LinkedIn groups and LinkedIn’s very credibility as a professional social media platform. SWAM, Site-Wide Automated Moderation, is a policy wherein if any individual LinkedIn group blocks and deletes you–for good or bad reason–LinkedIn will, without asking why it occurred, put you on site-wide automatic moderation, then flag you publicly to all LinkedIn groups with the announcement “Requires moderation”, again without asking why, without notifying you, and without explaining your transgression, if any. When you contact LinkedIn Support you will be told that it is not LinkedIn’s problem that LinkedIn did this. They instead will direct you to ask the group why they did this, but they won’t tell which one. They will also claim they cannot undo SWAM, which is not true as I personally know of two people that had SWAM undone. LinkedIn says, though, that the only recourse is to contact all of your other groups and beg them to reset you to default permissions. But, this requires caution. As I and others have experienced, some groups will see LinkedIn’s flag and upon receiving your request, opt to instead block and delete you as well. Their reasoning, apparently, is that if you are such a risk that LinkedIn feels compelled to moderate you and warn groups, best to remove you from the group before you cause them trouble as well. Adding insult-to-injury, LinkedIn’s support has gained a well-known reputation for deleting help tickets on the topic of SWAM. Based on members flagged “Requires moderation” by LinkedIn within my groups, as many as 10 million of LinkedIn’s 225 million members are now SWAMed. Yes, ten million. Worse, LinkedIn has yet to publicly announce to members that SWAM is implemented. It was never announced to members or to group owners and managers.

LinkedIn Facilitates and Enforces Discrimination

People are being blocked and deleted from LinkedIn groups for competitive reasons, others for clearly discriminatory reasons. These latter are the really troubling ones wherein people are SWAMed for gender, race, ethnicity, and other inappropriate reasons. LinkedIn passes along and enforces discrimination. Whatever the whim of a group manager, LinkedIn plays the classical “don’t hear, don’t see, don’t ask” role and just trusts the reason is valid and punishes you and libelously flags you. Again, without explanation, without recourse. Consider the following experience of a fellow group member who joined a group earlier in the year that turned out to be women-only. Gary was discriminated against by a biased group because he was male. LinkedIn passed along this discrimination and punitively put him on site-wide moderation and then libeled him publicly to all groups saying HE required moderation. On top of that, LinkedIn told him ‘don’t blame us’, we won’t tell you why, won’t undo.

Why SWAM in the first place?

SWAM may have been an erstwhile attempt to reduce spam. It fails in that attempt. My groups have more spam today than six months ago. It was also not discussed with group owners and managers, never even announced. In this, as we see with other changes, LinkedIn management do not use LinkedIn and do not understand what is needed or the consequences of their quick fixes. SWAM punishes legit members while spammers simply create new accounts and repost their spam.

Today at LinkedIn

In May, a new manager took over the LinkedIn groups product and quickly laid waste to any hope that LinkedIn might have an epiphany and undo SWAM. Worse, in a LinkedIn group set up to facilitate discussion about groups, the LinkedIn groups product manager has now decreed that no further discussion of SWAM would be allowed since it is too negative a topic. Further, in past statements, she says she won’t listen, won’t ask, and won’t share information about SWAM. We are shut out. Now, in July, new menus have buried LinkedIn groups, adding a further nail in the coffin of these once great arenas for professional discussion and networking. It is unclear where LinkedIn is heading but it is quickly leaving behind the member first mantra Jeff Weiner was so proud less than a year ago.

Can We Fix LinkedIn?

Yes. SWAM is bad and LinkedIn needs to simply end it immediately, with everyone’s rights restored. As seen with a few people already restored, this can be undone. The longer LinkedIn waits, the more damage they cause, not only to members but to LinkedIn itself. Next, LinkedIn needs to replace the product group manager with someone experienced in using groups, who values groups, and who has more than a few months each in several jobs on her short resume. What can you do? How do we individually or as a group of customers get justice, if you will, or simply even get the attention of a billion-dollar company like LinkedIn to say no to SWAM, to call on them to restore our rights, and to fulfill their inspiring member first commitment? Unfortunately, it is simple and not so simple. Sharing my blog post here, writing your own, speaking up, and similar steps to make our voices heard helps. A few more steps:



Matthew J. Weaver, PMP, CSM, ITILOn a personal note. LinkedIn has contributed to my professional and business success. I am a paying member of LinkedIn with well over 14,300 connections, own or manage nearly 10 groups with around 250,000 members, spend thousands of dollars advertising on LinkedIn every month, and, until SWAM, was a member of and actively participated in 50 LinkedIn groups. Now, being SWAMed, my participation in groups is destroyed, I’ve dropped most. LinkedIn’s value is greatly diminished. It is a win-win for me and all LinkedIn members to help LinkedIn return to its roots, to make Jeff Weiner’s vision again true.


Keywords: LinkedIn Member First No More, discrimination, Jeff Weiner, LinkedIn, LinkedIn groups, LNKD, member first, members first, Site-Wide Auto Moderation, Site-Wide Automatic Moderation, SWAM, jweiner, jeffweiner. Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

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This post was written by Matthew Weaver


  • Dick Smith says:

    I know I have been discriminated against by SWAM because someone in one of the groups I’m a member of has banned me for no apparent reason other than competition. I am a serious minded Technical Recruiter who networks on LinkedIn to find the “best of the best” talent and who posts real job opportunities in the group jobs category (ALWAYS). And, I have gotten the same run around from LinkedIn when I contacted tech support to complain.

  • Lolita Griffith says:

    Everyone is dreaming to think Jeff cares about LinkedIn members. Jeff says what Jeff thinks will make him money. I bet he has no clue what his employees are doing and he will not care until it affects his income.

  • Erin T says:

    SWAM is stupid. Are there no grown ups working at LinkedIn?

  • Raymond says:

    Thank you for such clarity. We need to shout this from the roof tops.

  • Rebecca Maria says:

    Will anyone ask Jeff about this at his next shareholder meeting?

  • DJ Adams says:

    Thank you! You have told more here than LinkedIn has dared say about their stupid policy. Stupid, did I say stupid?! More than that, it is worse than stupid. It is like they have a death wish and want to go out of business by handing the keys of the business over to group managers that act as petty tyrants for whatever irks them at any given moment.

    Matthew, you might want to save LinkedIn. Me, I am voting with my feet.

  • Peyton Farquhar says:

    Thanks for the info. I have to say that I had no clue an onerous policy such as SWAM even existed, but at the same time, I’m not surprised in the least. In its zeal to cash in on its success, too many networks forget about the details that made it popular in the first place. In this particular instance, LinkedIn mgt has completely overlooked its membership, and, instead, is now focusing on short-term gains on Wall Street. The entire country has this mindset from the federal government on down, so it’s not much of a newsflash. Sadly, the only time Big Biz pays attention is when its earnings are down and income substantially adversely affected. The various SWAM-oriented groups on G+ will have to get the word out en masse if that is to happen because quite frankly, I don’t see LI mgt giving a damn otherwise. And if the money train is ever affected sufficient for Jeff Weiner to take note, you’ll have to worry about being sued for interference with business contracts because I don’t imagine LI will go down quietly and without employing a fleet of high priced legal counsel to counter any blowback it may be the recipient of as a result of SWAM having been brought to light.

  • Schryer Gearhart says:

    Not one dime more. LinkIn gets no more money from me until SWAM ends. Where is an attorney to set up a class action lawsuit?

  • Max Spencer says:

    While you put no name to the group product manager, I will. Daria. She is incompetent and an embarrassment. I wonder how she explains her words and actions to Jeff Weiner? But does he care?

  • NoSWAM says:

    SWAM stinks. Group tyrants–not you Matthew–are blocking people for disagreeing with them and LinkedIn says this is not only okay, but they are automatically forcing this on all groups. In the LinkedIn Group Product Forum, David Filwood writes that this is stupidity management. It is. And stupid? LinkedIn has put Daria Axelrod Marmer in place as groups product manager. Most of her jobs are six months, she does use groups, cannot even manage the LinkedIn group for discussion of groups without being a petty tyrant herself. Calls us immature for pointing out the flaws and failures of SWAM, closes and deletes discussions, and places us on moderation to shut down discussion. Luckily her six months is half-through, so maybe there is hope for LinkedIn yet. Jeff, are you paying any attention to what your idiot managers are doing to insult your users and destroy your company?

  • Steven says:

    @Matthew, thank you for your persistence in speaking up on SWAM. I presume you are not commenting the the LinkedIn Groups Product Forum because Daria has moderated or even removed you from the group?

  • Steven,

    Yes, Daria has me on moderation. She wrote:

    From: Daria Marmer
    Sent: Tuesday, July 9, 2013 4:29 PM
    Subject: LinkedIn Groups Best Practices

    Hi Matthew,

    I have placed you on moderation again due to the negativity in your recent comments. I understand your frustration and I’d like to work with you proactively but this is difficult for me to do when you, and others, are negative.


    In latest effort to get LinkedIn to address my concerns, Daria Axelrod Marmer and Derek Homann confirmed that they stood by Daria’s actions. As I since asked, and they have not replied:

    From: Matthew J. Weaver
    Sent: Thursday, July 18, 2013 4:05 PM
    To: ‘Derek Homann’; ‘Daria Marmer’
    Subject: RE: Follow-up on our conversation; a renewed request for action

    So, are you saying (1) I remain on full moderation, (2) that the cyber bullies will remain unsanctioned in the group, that you will allow non-LinkedIn employees to post in the group while claiming to be employees and others to post without disclosing their affiliations as required by FTC guidelines, that you will continue to allow promotions and other content at odds with group rules and the LinkedIn user agreement, and (3) that the group rules will continue to ban “negativity” whatever that means?

    I am still awaiting info on Daria’s boss so that I might escalate my concerns and issues, should that become necessary.

    Thank you,

    Yes, Daria refuses to say who her boss is, Derek shared ‘In all honesty, I do not know who her boss is’. Derek has become involved from customer service perspective, but appears to have no authority, else agrees with Daria’s insults and actions.

    Derek did give me his supervisor’s contact info, but Daria is mum. I’ll next reach out from the top down. Time to ask Jeff Weiner is he wants his member first philosophy to be practiced by Daria saying she won’t ask, won’t listen, and won’t tell. Calling us too immature to engage and saying anything that doesn’t fit her view is negative. How about a few Daria quotes:

    On 07/08/13 7:50 PM, Daria Axelrod Marmer wrote:
    Hi Matthew,

    Additional conversation around SWAM only spurs on negative commentary, so discussions about SWAM, or discussions likely to turn into discussions about it, will not be posted in the groups product forum right now.

    Your latest message is too likely to incite another discussion about SWAM, so I am not approving it to post.


    On 05/28/13 10:41 AM, Daria Axelrod Marmer wrote:
    Comments ending with “submitted under moderation” are not conducive to a good group environment. 

    And, petty tyrant that she is, don’t forget her opening comment to the group when she joined LinkedIn: “There is no appeals process.”—Daria, May 8

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