If you’d asked me what LinkedIn was a year ago, I wouldn’t have been able to tell you. The only reason I had one was because a professor required me to, I never logged on or updated it.
When I started working at Verge Pipe Media, Don suggested we use it, and overall I’ve found that it’s a great way to brag on myself, share my job experience and skills, and create exposure. But I’ve recently discovered something else as well. It’s being infiltrated by creeps.
I only have 91 connections on LinkedIn, which isn’t very impressive. At first, I wasn’t picky about who I connected with – I thought, “Who knows, they could end up being good contacts or future employers.” But I started receiving several connection invitations from older men that I didn’t know, and I thought it was pretty odd. I’d visit their profiles to see how in the world they found me, and I still don't know. Usually they’re from a state I have no connections with, and we work in completely different fields.
I didn’t give it too much thought at first, but then I started receiving personal messages from some of these strangers. Never an introduction, never a “Hey Addi, this is how I know you.” Just a, “I’d like to get to know you better…” Umm, excuse me? Who are you? Why are you using LINKEDIN to try and get to know me? Your profile says you’re in your late 40s. How did you find me?
I brought it up at VPM, and Piper, the only other girl in the office, said she has experienced the same thing. Is LinkedIn the new outlet for old men and women to creep on people? It’s starting to feel like it. After doing a little bit more research, I realized some of these strangers are connected with several other young Auburn females as well. Who are they?
It’s fair to say that I might be taking this situation completely out of context, but in a time where we frequently share too much about ourselves on social media, and online predators are not uncommon, it’s important to address. I want to use LinkedIn as a way to connect with people (friends, public relations professionals and employers) and share my work and achievements. I shouldn’t feel uncomfortable or scared to share things because I’m worried about a stranger using that information in the wrong way.
Of course, this is not LinkedIn's fault. In fact, depending on your privacy settings, you can require that a person distinguish how they know you before they can request you as a connection. And if your privacy settings still aren't getting the job done, you can easily block or report a person by clicking the drop-down arrow on the "Send a message" button seen below and choosing the "Block or report" option.
Once you click "Block or report," another box will pop-up that will allow you to either completely block the person from seeing your profile, or report them to LinkedIn to be reviewed. Disclaimer: Don Crow is my boss, and I used his profile solely for example's sake.
All of that to say, that no matter what social media platforms you use, be aware. If strange activity occurs – don’t ignore it. Pay attention to how much information you share, and always be cautious about who you interact with online. Better safe than sorry.