On Facebook, you can make your profile very private so that no one outside of your network can see anything other than your name. You can also block individuals from contacting you. Twitter allows you to make your feed private so that you pick and choose who can follow your Tweets. Meanwhile, LinkedIn allows you to limit who can see your profile, but does not give you the ability to block individuals, so it’s kind of an all or nothing.
And that’s a problem for a website whose primary function is professional networking, and where the user wants his or her profile to be seen by as many employers and headhunters as possible.
If you close off access to your profile, only those who already know you will see your information. Since most of us aren’t hired by our close friends, that’s not good.
This may not be a problem for most people, who have no issue with other LinkedIn users being able to view their profiles and make contact. But for LinkedIn users who are deliberately attempting to avoid stalkers, it’s more than an annoyance.
Buzzfeed has the story of a woman who had left her previous job after being sexually assaulted by her former boss.
Even after she had moved on, he continued to contact her via every available channel. So she blocked him on Facebook, locked him out of her Twitter feed, but he kept reaching out to her on a daily basis through LinkedIn.
Since there is no option for blocking individuals, she could only keep ignoring and deleting his creepy messages. Limiting the visibility of her profile would negate the utility of even having a LinkedIn profile.
When she contacted LinkedIn about her predicament, she says she was told she’d need a court order to block her former boss’s e-mails.
And so she’s started a Change.org petition, asking LinkedIn to rethink its policies.
The letter, addressed to five LinkedIn executives is a simple one-sentence plea: “Offer LinkedIn users a blocking feature against other users.”
It currently has more than 5,300 signatures, and a number of supporters are voicing similar stories.
“I am continually stalked by someone who keeps creating fake accounts to view my location and details,” writes one user. “Like others I have previously hidden all my details but am now currently looking for employment and therefore would like to make certain features of my account public.”
“I can’t use LinkedIn anymore because my ex could find out where I work and that would put my son and I in danger,” writes another.
In response, LinkedIn tells Buzzfeed:
“We do not at this time offer a singular, broad-based block feature, although we would certainly evaluate the need for one if it becomes apparent that there’s a need… LinkedIn offers a large number of granular settings that give our members total control over what’s visible to their connections, their broader network, and others.”