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LinkedIn blocked 21.6M fake accounts in first half of year, as scrutiny of social media giants grows


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LinkedIn blocked or removed 21.6 million fake accounts on its platform from January to June of this year, a sign that the Microsoft-owned social network is actively fighting some of the same issues that have plagued Facebook, Twitter and others.




In a blog post, LinkedIn’s Head of Trust and Safety Paul Rockwell wrote that the vast majority of the fake accounts — 19.5 million — were blocked at the registration stage, meaning they never went live on the network. The company spotted another 2 million fake accounts, and members flagged 67,000 more accounts.


LinkedIn said 98 percent of the fake accounts were blocked or removed through the network’s automated defenses, and the rest were captured by humans.


“We want to make sure our community continues to be a valuable resource for you; one that creates opportunities to find jobs, make connections and grow careers,” Rockwell wrote. “When we stop fake accounts, we start more chances for economic opportunity. We are committed to using every measure available to maintain your safety, allowing everyone to access economic opportunity while feeling supported and secure.”


Social media has been at the forefront of a major political controversy in recent weeks. Twitter this week suspended 936 accounts linked to what it called “a significant state-backed information operation” that originated in China to try and undermine anti-government protests in Hong Kong. Another 200,000 accounts were “proactively suspended before they were substantially active on the service,” Twitter said. Facebook followed suit by removing several accounts, groups and pages after getting a tip from Twitter.


As the New York Times reported last week, LinkedIn has largely avoided the issues of disinformation and harassment that have haunted Facebook and Twitter in recent years. Experts interviewed by the Times chalked it up to LinkedIn’s existence as the online extension of the office. People tend to be on better behavior in front of their boss, co-workers and potential future employers.


“You talk on LinkedIn the same way you talk in the office,” LinkedIn Editor In Chief Dan Roth told the Times. “There are certain boundaries around what is acceptable.”


However, LinkedIn has dealt with its share of issues around fake profiles. Earlier this year, Digiday documented the experiences of executives who receive a high volume of messages from what appear to be fake accounts with strange requests and poor grammar and syntax.


LinkedIn, today has 645 million members around the globe. It produced more than $5.3 billion in revenue for Microsoft last year. As the Times notes, that is about half of Facebook-owned Instagram’s revenue and about one-tenth of Facebook as a whole. It’s also twice the amount of revenue Twitter brought in last year.



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