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Social media is a fertile breeding ground with people hitting up others for dates. These would-be suitors are typically male, often unknown to the intended target and the advances made are often not welcome.
For a number of years now, LinkedIn has also fallen victim to this unfortunate trend, with some users – predominantly women – forced off LinkedIn or pushed into other extreme action in response to the harassment.
LinkedIn is an invaluable tool for professionals across the board, including HR practitioners – who are finding LinkedIn an increasingly valuable recruitment tool. It has an estimated 500 million-plus users. And counting.
So it’s essential the world’s biggest professional networking platform is a safe playing field for all genders. But harassment remains an issue for many.
One woman taking matters into her own hands is Andrea Myles. Such was the level of harassment she reported being subjected to on LinkedIn that she took the drastic step of pretending to be a man on LinkedIn so she could use the service in relative peace.
Myles says of the numerous occasions she received an unsolicited message in her LinkedIn inbox from a strange man: “It wasn’t completely explicit, but they never are. They’re always just a little bit in that grey area. I was so irritated by it and it was happening a lot – I probably got a few that month – and I just thought, ‘I’m just going to change my profile to male’.”
Gone was Andrea Myles, 30-something, female CEO. She changed her LinkedIn profile to Andrew Miles, middle-aged male CEO. In the blink of an eye, the sexual harassment dropped to zero.
“It’s really funny to throw your own profile around in such a cavalier way, but also just to flip this on its head and say imagine if it was just so simple that to not be sexually harassed you could just change your gender,” Myles was reported as saying on whimn.com.au.
Myles believes LinkedIn should be doing more to protect women on its platform.
“I don’t think LinkedIn is prioritising the experiences of women on their platform because it would be very simple if somebody’s profile has been reported multiple times to say, ‘You will get strikes against your profile and then you will be removed’. As far as I can tell, that really doesn’t seem to be happening,” she says.
According to a spokesperson for LinkedIn, the company takes such matters seriously and suggested that members should report any behaviour they considered to be inappropriate through the platform’s Help Centre.
“The online world has no shortage of places for people looking for dates – it’s neither common, nor effective, to do that on LinkedIn. And if someone insists on trying, we have tools in place to block those people and, where necessary, remove them from the site altogether,” the spokesperson said.
Parts of this article were first published on whimn.com.au