Thursday, January 15, 2015

Islamophobia Creeps Into LinkedIn

I'm pretty disappointed with LinkedIn right now.

Every few days, I get an electronic newsletter from LinkedIn. This email contains links to a variety of professional development articles and other business-related news tailored to my career interests. I know email is pretty passe, but I review these messages regularly; I almost always find something relevant to my job or that I think might help solve issues I face in the workplace. It is one of my chief methods of staying current with my industry, and one of the features of LinkedIn that I use and like.

A few days ago, however, was a different story. I was quite frankly shocked by one of the articles that was included in the message.

Surprised by this provocative and suspicious title, I clicked through to investigate the story. It was worse than I expected: the article ominously claimed that "some areas" in the U.S. were governed (or close to being governed) by "Sharia Law." It contained no useful or thoughtful opinions; no sources were used to corroborate any of its claims, no names were given, and no specifics of any kind were provided. It simply asserted that this was so. To describe this piece as written is to refute it. In short, it was simply prejudicial fear-mongering at its worst.

Okay, so what? Lots of people believe this kind of nonsense. But this isn't some back-water basement blogger who sent me this tripe - this is LinkedIn, ostensibly a clearinghouse for professionalism, and the third largest social media site in the world. I expect more from a site like LinkedIn, and I would guess that from a bottom line perspective, it might not be such a good idea to alienate a quarter of your potential customers.

What is even more troubling is that the content of the article violates their own community guidelines: "Do not use LinkedIn's services... for hate speech acts like attacking people because of their race, ethnicity, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, political or religious affiliations, or medical or physical condition." [emphasis added]

Needless to say, I contacted customer support to try to answer the question, "how did this come to be in my version of LinkedIn's official newsletter?" I am almost more gobsmacked that they have not yet seen fit to answer my question.

LinkedIn, I await your reply.

UPDATE: searching on, I was able to find what appears to be the source of the link, but seeing it here does not explain how the link got into my copy of LinkedIn's newsletter. I hope that a thorough explanation is forthcoming.

UPDATE II: I changed the title of this post to be less snarky, because LinkedIn finally did contact me, escalated the issue, and seem to be genuinely concerned about it. I hope that something positive comes out of this. 

UPDATE III: Fox has apologized for promoting this story as news. But LinkedIn is still standing by this story under the cover of "free expression." What gives? 

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