LinkedIn Is Accidentally Banning Its Content Creators
I have just had my 4th ban from LinkedIn. Here’s what it means for you.
People love making fun of LinkedIn. The platform is often the brunt of high school jokes. Professional people in suits trying to be normal around the online water cooler. It’s bound to be a difficult community to manage.
I am a self-confessed LinkedIn junkie. There is something about work culture that is fascinating to me. At the same time, there are many people who live out a nightmare career when they don’t have to. I decided to unleash a can of whoop-ass in the #inspiration category on LinkedIn six years ago.
But LinkedIn has been a real struggle lately. I have been banned four times from the platform. Three of those bans occurred in the last 12 months.
When you get banned you don’t know you’re banned. It starts out like a bad romance. First you go to kiss them. Then they make 404 error gestures. Then you go to comment on someone’s post and can’t. Then you start getting random emails from strangers.
“I can’t see your LinkedIn profile anymore,” they say. You think they’re crazy. You can log in to your account but it just feels weird. Like you overstepped the friendzone with a good friend you’ve known for years.
Then all of a sudden you can’t log in. You get the “please identify yourself page.” You’ve been dumped by them. At this point, you have no idea why. You have no email or warning to guide you. The page that replaces your login screen says you must ID yourself. This involves the gruesome and scary task of taking a photo of your driver’s license or passport and uploading it to LinkedIn, where a stranger views and verifies it.
All this happens while you secretly hope they don’t get hacked and your ID is put on the dark web for porn sites to abuse with deep fakes of you doing it with Kim Kardashian. The ID uploading is on top of the email, mobile, and two-factor verification you already have in place to secure your account and verify who you are.
In other words, you feel guilty until proven innocent.
The next step is to wait in silence. After a few days (up to a week is average for me) you get an email back from LinkedIn support. They’re actually really nice and they don’t talk down to you.
They’re humans and they seem to understand that LinkedIn is your digital resume. Without LinkedIn, your career experience, history, and recommendations die a horrible death during a global pandemic and recession. You’re effectively unemployable and invisible to those who may want to talk to you about a job without LinkedIn.
Out of my four bans, the official feedback has been that I’ve done nothing wrong. Several of the bans were due to LinkedIn’s automation.
One ban was because apparently I viewed too many LinkedIn profiles in a single day. I went back and took a look. On the day in question, I looked at about 30 profiles.
The last ban went unexplained. On the day of the ban, I wrote two sentences about how I thought Biden would beat Trump. There was nothing offensive. I was just putting my wish out into the world that love would replace hate. Right after this LinkedIn post, I was banned.
All social media platforms implemented anti-spam, anti-hate, anti-conspiracy, and anti-election tampering controls to their algorithms. You can’t blame them really. While I will never know, I suspect my political post got me banned. Within hours I had my account back.
The other times I got my account back pretty quickly too, and they even gave me free LinkedIn premium for a few months as a sign of goodwill.
It’s Not Just Me
I am part of several LinkedIn content creator communities. These communities contain some of the kindest people I have ever met.
As soon as they saw I was banned, they would come rushing in. I’d get WhatsApp calls from India, China, America, and the Middle East. These leaders don’t just talk a good game on LinkedIn. They practice what they talk about.
Unfortunately, it’s not just me. Many of my fellow LinkedIn creators have been banned too. In fact, I don’t think I know a mainstream LinkedIn creator who hasn’t experienced at least one ban.
Getting banned on LinkedIn is a reality if you post content or like to leave comments on people’s posts. It’s not personal. I believe it’s broken automation.
How You Feel When You Are Banned From Social Media
- You feel upset. Many of us have had our LinkedIn profiles since we first entered the workforce. All of the people you meet in your career end up becoming connections on your LinkedIn profile. It’s a place where you go to visit former bosses, colleagues you lost touch with, and your current team who you celebrate success with when they get promoted or move on.
- You feel censored. Freedom of speech is real. If you get banned, you will feel censored no matter how much you tell yourself you’re not being.
- You feel in the dark. You often don’t know why. Communication is slow. If you work in sales, like me, then your career grinds to a halt. You can’t prospect or create lists of leads. You blame yourself. You try to work out what rule you may have broken.
- You’re embarrassed. Many people by now must think I’m guilty. Each time it happens people begin to suspect something is up. You can’t blame them. One time is forgivable. But four times? It’s embarrassing when your LinkedIn account is taken away from you, especially when you pay money for it.
What to Do If You Get Banned
Getting banned from LinkedIn isn’t fun. It’s serious business. If you post content on LinkedIn then you are likely to experience at least one ban due to faulty automation designed to protect the community. Here’s what I have learned through my four bans that can help you:
Try not to take it personally
LinkedIn’s staff isn’t sitting in a boardroom in San Fran watching every action you take on their platform.
A ban is almost always an accident. And if the ban is legit, then you’ll learn a harsh lesson and probably get a second chance.
Talk nicely to LinkedIn support staff
This strategy is a superpower. Treat LinkedIn support staff ridiculously well. They’re nice people with families just like you. If you explain your position and ask for guidance or coaching then you’ll feel the love.
Empathize with how hard their job must be to police the Wild West and you’ll get a quality outcome. Kindness will never screw up your life.
Follow up via Twitter
Once you are banned from LinkedIn you can’t reach their support staff. LinkedIn support staff can only be contacted when you are logged in. The good news is LinkedIn has support via Twitter. If you message LinkedIn on Twitter and ask for their help then they can advise and follow up for you. They are quick to respond and don’t mess about.
Disable your ego
Your ego wants to say to them “how dare you!” Don’t do it. Your ego lies to you when you’ve been banned from social media. Silence the little devil.
Get a premium account as an insurance policy
A friend of mine suggested I purchase LinkedIn premium. I think his logic is solid. A company will treat you differently if you pay them money.
I had a premium account and let it lapse. Then my employer gave me a LinkedIn Sales Navigator license to help me with my job. When the third ban occurred, my Sales Navigator account was instantly disconnected. I never bothered to reconnect it.
After the fourth ban, I’ve become a LinkedIn paid member once again. Actually, I’m glad I did. I rediscovered LinkedIn Learning courses which I love and have helped me through this apocalyptic year in human history.
Remember social media companies have an almost impossible job
Try being a social media company. It’s bloody hard work. There are bots who pretend to be LinkedIn users. There are fake profiles used to promote porn. There are people who help themselves to multiple accounts.
Then there are the troll groups. I was targeted by one over a year ago. A gentleman from the U.K. had a successful startup. He sold it for millions of dollars to a new owner. On the first day they took over they fired him. He was stuck at home with millions of dollars and nothing to do. He went on LinkedIn and must have seen my ugly duckling face and thought “who’s this big-eared mofo?” The next day he started making up legit lies.
He’d say, “I worked with one of your colleagues and they told me you never went to any homeless shelter.” What he said was a lie but people couldn’t tell who was wrong. Then he started using social proof. He got other people to support his lies and agree with them.
Then the parodies started. He would take my LinkedIn posts and turn them into hilarious stories. I’ll be honest, they were bloody funny. This went on for a number of months. The hate comments overtook the regular comments.
People started to distance themselves from my posts because they had no idea whether the ring leader was telling the truth. The natural reaction when you see a social media post full of hateful comments is to assume there’s tonne of controversy around that person and quietly be on your way. That’s exactly what happened.
Thankfully, the whole situation helped me grow resilience. I became unafraid of critics, when previously, I was sh*t scared of them.
Now imagine being LinkedIn in this situation. How the heck do you work out what someone’s intention is and whether what they’re saying is true? Well, you don’t. You stay away or ban everybody involved.
I don’t envy the difficult jobs social media companies have to allow freedom of speech and protect users from spam and hate speeches.
Getting banned from social media isn’t the end of the world. It’s certainly inconvenient and you will probably become a little upset, but you’ll be okay.
Here’s the most important lesson I learned from my fourth LinkedIn ban:
As long as you’re spreading hope, inspiration, or positivity you’ll be fine. The people who are trying to change the world in some tiny way and help others, generally, have luck on their side. At least that’s how I feel.
Use social media to inspire others and the setbacks along the way will be worth it.