Last week I wrote a serious social commentary piece about whether oversharing on social platforms could lead to serious consequences. In that article, I used the recent Kim Kardashian robbery in Paris as source material to exemplify the point I was making – there has been significant conjecture in the media that by posting pictures of her jewellery and providing snippets about her location on the likes of Twitter / Instagram she had inadvertently provided valuable clues to the would-be thieves.
Interestingly, although the article trended very well (it was featured in LinkedIn Pulse under the Social Media and Entertainment sections with circa 40,000 views / 1.5k likes) some of the 500+ comments / shares were astonishingly vitriolic mainly citing that the post was not an ‘appropriate place for LinkedIn’ and that this kind of piece should only appear on the likes of Facebook.
One particularly charming LinkedIn police cadet even went so far as to suggest that I should kill myself. I mean seriously? You may not like the Kardashians but I would proffer that using profanity and telling the writer to commit suicide are possibly a little more unpleasant.
And all this negativity got me thinking. In the past two years I’ve published over 100 articles on LinkedIn and they have covered some pretty eclectic subjects (anything from the phenomenon of adult colouring books to how dangerous taking a selfie can be). I occasionally get some negative comments which is kind of par for the course. But I have noticed more recently that there appears to be (what I would describe as) a ‘moral minority’ who have taken it upon themselves to decide what type of content they believe is appropriate for LinkedIn and, more importantly, being aggressively vocal about what they think is not.
So, in turn, that got me wondering if these self-appointed content gatekeepers had a valid point. I respectfully questioned some of the people who had left derogatory comments about why they deemed the article inappropriate for LinkedIn. The response was somewhat muted. Most of the ones I challenged simply failed to reply. A few of them admitted that they hadn’t read the article properly – in fact one person said they had only read the title of the piece and assumed it was TMZ style piece about the Kardashians. Never judge a book by it’s cover as they say.
In the end, only two of the critics replied. Both of them exercised their prerogative to voice their opinion. Naturally I have absolutely no argument with that, everyone is entitled to their viewpoint as long as they can validate it. However, when I pressed them on their reasoning about why they believed the article wasn’t appropriate for LinkedIn it seems that the main issue was the source material of the Kardashians (I hadn’t realised that they polarised opinion quite so much). I reiterated that the purpose of the piece was about the implications of oversharing on social platforms but it seems that they were more concerned by the tweeted picture of Kim’s diamond ring where one of the responders stated “the first thing you see is a woman with so much cleavage that you can almost see her exposed body” and hence “it’s inappropriate because it’s not about business.” The focus of that featured tweet was obviously meant to be the stolen diamond ring but you see what you want to see I suppose…
Ignoring the lamentable cleavage comment, I focused on the notion that LinkedIn is a ‘business’ oriented social platform so dug deep into LinkedIn’s very own definition of what it is. Intriguingly, in their very own explanation I couldn’t find any reference linking it to business. Actually LinkedIn are very clear on what they are all about: “Our mission is to connect the world’s professionals to make them more productive and successful.”
That said, I see the connection to business of course. But social media is business. So is entertainment. Actually both pretty big businesses the last time I looked.
So what about what’s deemed ‘appropriate’ content according to LinkedIn?
“We’re always looking for new ways for members to contribute professional insights on LinkedIn. Our publishing platform allows members, in addition to Influencers, to publish long-form posts about their expertise and interests. While publishing a long-form post doesn’t mean you’re a LinkedIn Influencer, it does allow you to further establish your professional identity by expressing your opinions and sharing your experiences.”
It’s about insights, interests, opinions and experiences. Crystal clear. No need for further clarification on that.
So then why have we seen this recent surge of self imposed content enforcers infiltrating the threads of various articles? I asked a fellow LinkedIn publisher, Christine Stevens, about a similar experience she had recently when publishing an article assessing the merits of using either LinkedIn or beBee: “I thought I was avoiding controversial topics when I wrote a short piece on the views my posts got on beBee and LinkedIn. The point? One site got more views, but both were equally useful. I didn’t realise I was stepping on a hive of bees. At least one childish spat broke out, names were called, comments were deleted and somewhere along the line inferences about my ego were made.”
Stevens goes on to say: “I get that people aren’t always going to agree, but some need to get a grip. Disagreement and discussion are good. Moral superiority, not so much.”
So have the LinkedIn Police paid you a visit on any posts that you have shared or articles you have published? And if so, what did they critique and how did you respond?