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LinkedIn: Member First No More

Matthew Weaver
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.

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This post was written by Matthew Weaver

discrimination, Jeff Weiner, LinkedIn, LinkedIn groups, LNKD, member first, members first, Site-Wide Auto Moderation, Site-Wide Automatic Moderation, SWAM,
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