LinkedIn says it has reached 200 million profiles. It is a great number!
I do love LinkedIn and I care about its growth. People Sourcers know for a fact that LinkedIn is an incredibly rich source, the best world-wide, even if the claimed number of profiles was larger than the number of real live professionals on LinkedIn.
LinkedIn critics say that many LinkedIn members “do not use the site actively”. That’s OK with me though. I can try reaching members through a message or an InMail, even if they do not hang out at the site.
Here is where the growing problem is though. LinkedIn is being increasingly polluted with fake profiles and the content they generate. LinkedIn doesn’t weed them out well and doesn’t give its users enough power to weed them out.
Issue #1. Junk names, no real person’s info. Here are some names of LinkedIn members, as listed on the site alphabetically:
(etc.) These “profiles” perhaps wouldn’t be right to claim among the 200 MLN. But they are not a problem for someone who does people search; these profiles usually wouldn’t even show up in the search results.
There are also LinkedIn members with first and last names being “company”, “business”, “software”, etc.; I am sure you’ve all seen them.
*** Here’s a little sourcing challenge for my fellow sourcers: find a keyword that cannot be a name (such as “company”) with the largest number of results in people search, used as either the first or the last name on LinkedIn, and post in the comments here. Example: Last Name = company ***
Issue #2. Fake profiles – personal spammers. Some of the fake profiles, are, unfortunately, active, “log into the site”, and actively add junk content. Those are becoming a real issue.
Here is an example of some invitations I have received recently:
I assure you that these are not real people. The images are generic; the profiles contain very similar info in broken English, claiming an advanced degree from one of the top schools (ha!) and a link to a junk site. The profile images are reused for similar profiles.
An extra connection with a fake profile is somewhat unpleasant to have. It increases the amount of spam messages for anyone who accepts these connection requests.
Dear LinkedIn: can you please look up some profiles like these, tag and remove them automatically?
Issue #3. Fake profiles – group spammers. Now, these are a real pain. Profiles like this one:
actively join groups and mass-comment on every post before the group moderator knows it. LinkedIn Customer Support says (quoting from a reply to me):
We do have some proprietary algorithms that track spam-like activities on the site, but we largely leave the group content decisions up to the individual group management.
The problem is that many of these “users” are apparently software-generated. Moderating a larger open group is either becoming a huge time consuming effort, or – as it’s done in most groups- junk is accepted and the group is a wasteland.
The group moderator is only a person. There’s little we can do against armies of non-existent “members” that are created by software and generate junk messages through software. Here’s a typical example. There’s a lot of pointers to the same job-related sites – of questionable value – spread over the groups, like this:
Dear LinkedIn: please block at least some of the junk content. You can do it!
First, please block at least some non-existent users who are actively inviting and posting. I am sure the user jerseywebsite will not complain.
Second, please give group moderators tools to mass-block mass-spam. The existing moderation tools are not adequate. I’d like to be able to auto-flag messages that have “jerseys” and “make money from home” in my groups. I’d also like to be able to flag the same link posted more than once by the same person.
I imagine that some group moderators would second that.