LinkedIn is a strange planet in the social media galaxy. Not quite a tool for conversation and seemingly intentionally lacking in individual personality and customization; it exists within its own congratulatory vacuum, protecting us from any past indiscretions that may be lurking behind a couple of years’ worth of scrolling, and allowing us to present the most smug versions of ourselves – professionally though, so it’s totally fine.
Interestingly, it’s also the only mainstream social media platform that offers (and offers, and offers…) a paid version of itself – boasting different features, prioritised visibility on the platform, and an elevated sense of self-worth (probably). This idea of offering a white-glove service is interesting on a platform like LinkedIn, especially since it’s not exclusive at all – if you’ve got the $24.99/month handy, you’re instantly part of the squad.
It’s this idea of the controlled professional image LinkedIn wants you to have which makes the Mentioned in the News feature so interesting, and potentially disastrous for your professional facade. An automated feature, the tool scrolls through online news articles and matches names mentioned to LinkedIn members or organisations. Sounds pretty harmless, right?
The above news mention popped up in my feed (timeline? Roster of achievement? Scroll of endless peer success and self-loathing?) and instantly stood out. It’s the only piece of unflattering content I’ve ever encountered on the platform, and it was at the hand of an automated function designed to help you toot your own horn while you’re not even touching the wheel. This post represents the utmost betrayal of a platform that is specifically formatted to help you feel like you are presenting the Best Version of Yourself™ – taking all the perceived control out of crafting your own persona, and letting those pesky indiscretions fight their way in, all while your back is turned.
It’s an interesting concept in theory, but doesn’t really hold up in practice. It naively presumes the news will be flattering, and doesn’t seem to filter out potentially negative key words (an apology –in a news headline– is usually a bad thing). By LinkedIn’s own admission, “while this algorithm is good, it’s not perfect”. Seems like an interesting position to take on a platform that’s specifically marketed to give you total control over the facets of your professional life you wish to put out there.
Well, I guess all PR is good PR, right?