After this LinkedIn experiment, it won't be the same

Last month it was announced that LinkedIn had conducted an unprecedented five-year social experiment on 20 million users that changed the rules of the game.

  (photo credit: ice.co.il)
(photo credit: ice.co.il)

Between 2015 and 2019, LinkedIn conducted an experiment on 20 million users and switched and changed the profiles that appear in the "People Also Viewed" in the LinkedIn profiles of the users of the platform. By doing so, it indirectly damaged the reputation and name of job seekers, business owners and senior CEOs.

For its part, LinkedIn claims that this is mentioned in its user regulations. Yet, it did not announce anything about this social experiment before it began.  It was only after two years that users learned about it. In the universe of social networks, we have seen social experiments, and it is clear that this happens all the time because we, as the users of the platform, are the product. This time it's different.

In order to understand the situation, we must consider that since social networks have entered our lives, we have heard about special advertisements, information leaks in all types of different forms and even targeted censorship according to specific words. What happened this time is completely different because we became used to the fact that this type of experimentation is usually done on Facebook, Instagram, and sometimes Twitter.  LinkedIn never played the "social experiments" game and kept its business style consistent.

The difference between the platforms comes from the very definition of LinkedIn as a "social-business network" and not "just" a social network. The timing surrounding the revealing of LinkedIn's experimentation is critical for LinkedIn and the digital world. It's critical for LinkedIn because its user base is on the rise, and by 2022, its reputation was nearly flawless. It's critical for the digital world because LinkedIn has shown that not everyone plays the social experiment game that all social networks play.

The LinkedIn Dilemma

The new situation raises a new dilemma. As we are nearing the end of 2022, the news of this experiment joins another series of negative news for LinkedIn this year. If it were any other social network, we would not be surprised at all. LinkedIn's branding and reputation are being harmed for the first time by the platform itself and not through a third party.

LinkedIn has two options. It can show its respect for users' privacy so that such a case is not published again.

The second option is for LinkedIn to continue with the attitude of "it's not going to change anything" because users don't have any alternative to its platform, as it is the only social-business network. This could be one experiment in a series of experiments and could be just the beginning of more experimentation.

What can we expect from LinkedIn?

If we zoom out and look at LinkedIn over the last five years, we cannot ignore the new features and improvements that LinkedIn is constantly introducing, far more than any other platform. Even if more "bad news" comes from LinkedIn, we can be sure that it will "disappear" among the good news. Perhaps this is part of its strategy, and it may be a coincidence, but the only sure thing is that LinkedIn has suddenly become a much more interesting word. This is definitely something we can continue to expect from LinkedIn in the future.