LinkedIn: Stalker Central?

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LinkedIn is one of very few social sites that doesn’t allow users to block people from viewing their profile or contacting them, so for those with abusive exes or former bosses the site is a hazard and trigger risk. What can HR do to help?

When 24-year-old Anna R. was sexually assaulted by her boss she didn’t expect the problems to continue after she quit, but as she told news site Buzzfeed, she has not been able to move on.

She was able to block her boss’s threatening daily emails and voicemails, made her Facebook and Twitter pages private but still every day she sees an alert that he had looked at her LinkedIn profile.

“He would send me emails and check my LinkedIn account and ask me what I’m working on or doing,” she said. “If I had an interview or made a connection that wasn’t in my area, [my boss] would ask if I was leaving. Questions that were really freaking me out.”

Job seekers and others need to have fairly open security settings to build professional connections, so the more private an individual’s profile the less likely they are to be hired. It’s difficult to balance the desire to protect themselves with the need for openness toward potential employers.  be difficult to balance the need for open information and trying to maximize safety. 

Read more: Domestic violence – a workplace issue

 “We do not at this time offer a singular, broad-based block feature, although we would certainly evaluate the need for one if it becomes apparent that there’s a need,” LinkedIn told BuzzFeed. “LinkedIn offers a large number of granular settings that give our members total control over what’s visible to their connections, their broader network, and others.”

If you have an employee with a problem like this, help them go through their privacy options on LinkedIn to decide exactly what information should be public. Make sure contact information is hidden and that details that could indicate where they live and work, and what hours they work are obscured.

Make sure they are documenting every instance, both at work and home, to show a pattern of behaviour and encourage them to contact the police.

While usually stalking is not directly a workplace issue, but an employee who is scared or feels unsafe is not at their most productive, and by supporting your staff through their problems outside the office you help create a culture of caring and acceptance.

A petition on Change.org asking LinkedIn to improve its privacy settings had more than 6000 signatures on Monday morning.

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