LinkedIn has joined the ranks of its social media contemporaries, finally adding a blocking feature to the site Friday. This long awaited privacy setting isn’t something LinkedIn rolled out without some urging. It resisted for so long to remain ultra committed to its mission of being the first truly open, networking site.
As all of us with LinkedIn profiles know, members can use the site to view other people's employers, city of employment, their networks, and other personal information. But as Rihtar points out, in the wrong hands, this info could put someone with a stalker in a dangerous situation. Before LinkedIn added the new feature, you were only able to block a member if that person is prohibited from having a LinkedIn account by virtue of a court order. Otherwise, the harassed would have one of two options: delete their account or modify their online name, ultimately defeating the purpose of joining LinkedIn in the first place.
So why’d it take LinkedIn so long to add a setting that's commonplace on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, etc.? A post on LinkedIn's Help Center blog by head of Trust and Safety, Paul Rockwell, explains that the blocking feature was added because "it was the right thing to do," but also seems to discourage its use by pointing out alternate privacy settings that restrict profile viewing.
Rockwell lists the many settings you can employ before deciding to block someone permanently, including customizing your public profile, removing an existing connection to another member, and altering what members see when they visit your profile. All of these solutions are helpful but member blocking addresses the real issue – safety. Unlike with Rockwell's suggestions, the new blocking feature adds another layer of privacy from stalkers. They can no longer reach out to your connections, know where you're working or living, or direct message you. When you block someone, they're LinkedIn dead to you.
Although LinkedIn has made the change, it doesn't seem like they actually want users to use the block features. When Facebook or Instagram rolls out a new privacy setting, it's at the top of your newsfeed with a tutorial on how the new feature works. LinkedIn released the block feature on Friday with little fanfare, and when I logged into LinkedIn to find out more about blocking, it was really hard to find anything on the site about it.
I'm glad that LinkedIn has made initial steps to prioritize user safety, but let's just hope they get more out and proud about it.