Social Media Anomalies (#1): LinkedIn

From time to time as I run across anomalies in social media (i.e., something which just doesn’t make sense to me) I’ll blog about it here.

This is my first such post, and it involves that old workhorse of social media, LinkedIn.

I suspect as I go along this won’t be my last either!



Do you remember that old software joke?  The one that goes what does a vendor call a reported bug and the reply is a feature.  I think we’ve all been there and this story tells of a more contemporary social media update to that old wag.

Recently, I gave a presentation on the use of LinkedIn as a career management aid to a group of graduate students attending a National Science Foundation conference.

Afterwards, I sat down with one of the attendees to review the sponsoring organizations’s use of LinkedIn when she brought something to my attention.

The conversation that followed goes something like this:

ATTENDEE:  “Hey Con, remember how you recommended to us that we should select the “hide” option for the “Viewers of this profile also viewed” feature?”

ME:  “Yes, why?”

ATTENDEE:  “Didn’t you say that you’d selected “hide” yourself?”

ME:  “Yes.”  (Nervously)

ATTENDEE:  “Well, how come “People Similar to” shows on your profile?  For that matter, why’s it showing twice on your profile?”

ME: “Er, I haven’t a clue.  May I see your screen please?”  (Nervously switching to panic.)

I’ll spare you the rest of the dialogue to make a long story short.  But, here’s what happened.

Like many instructors I recommend turning off the “Viewers of this profile also viewed” feature when setting up one’s privacy settings on her profile.  My view is don’t help your competition.  If someone goes to the trouble of preparing a world class profile why include the names of similar people?  Perhaps a bit harsh but, let’s face it, it is a tough job market out there.

The trap I fell into along with others whom I know and respect (Misery always loves company.) is that when reviewing my own profile I only do it from within my own account in LinkedIn.  When I do that I don’t see “Viewers of this profile also viewed” feature because I’ve hidden it.  Likewise, “People Similar to” never shows there either.  I thought I was good.

Little did I know!

My associate who had been looking at my profile as we began our session noticed “People Similar to” and thought maybe I hadn’t turned off the feature.  I checked her profile and despite using the “hide” feature she had “People Similar to” showing twice on her profile too.  I checked the profiles of several friends whom I know had turned this off and got the same result.  For the moment, I was stumped and I promised to return with an answer after I researched this further.

Well, I’m happy to report that I did find an answer and did get back to my new found friend.  (Hopefully, I didn’t do too much damage to my reputation in the process!)

Seems that what I thought was a bug is actually a feature.

While users can turn off “Viewers of this profile also viewed,” we cannot turn off “Viewers of this profile also viewed.”

To me this is oxymoronic.  If someone wishes to turn off the former why would she want the latter to show?  Let alone twice!

I suspect that this is for the benefit of members who are recruiters.  What really surprises me is that LinkedIn in its rush to monetarize the application hasn’t turned this into a premium feature yet for recruiters and similar professionals.

I’m also unhappy that this isn’t obvious unless you happen to be working with someone simultaneously in LinkedIn as I was.  When you select the “hide” feature you expect it to disappear.  To slightly rename the feature and then put it on the profile twice, which the user won’t normally encounter, is a bit disingenuous in my opinion.  Slight of hand like this is why social media companies are getting in trouble with various regulatory agencies in this country and around the world.  LinkedIn is a fine product which can help many people and organizations.  This is beneath them.

In doing my research, I noted that in the Help Forum other users have requested the option to hide “People Similar to” as well.  I contacted the Help Center which freely and timely agreed with the facts.  They did say that others have requested this change but can provide no timeline due to the volume of changes requested.  At a minimum, LinkedIn should at least inform its users what information is being shared on their profile in addition to what the users submit themselves.

My advice?

First, if this bothers you like it does me then submit a request to LinkedIn to have this corrected.  More requests may help here.  Share this out to your friends who use LinkedIn so that are made aware and can submit requests as well.

Finally, always have a friend check your profile for you from their account.  This increases the likelihood that you may spot something that you weren’t aware of.

If I learn more from LinkedIn about this “feature” I’ll post it here.  Hopefully, they’re listening!

That’s it for now!

In the meantime, thank you for following and reading my blog!

I look forward to any and all comments that you may have.  I will reply to any comments made to this blog post as promptly as I can.


I do this for a living and if I can be of any assistance to either you or your organization, please feel free to call on me.  Our initial discussion will be of no charge to you.

I can also be reached at

My Twitter handle is @conpsweeney.

Stay well!

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