Why LinkedIn needs a civility button

There is much discussion around civility in the workplace and social media. On the one hand you have a demographic quoting from Orwell’s 1984  railing against “thought police” and insisting on the right to free speech. The words cancel culture and woke have crept into our vocabulary in recent months.

On the other hand there is a group that wants to agree a code of conduct that sets out guidelines for some basic etiquette. I am firmly in that number which is why I feel strongly that LinkedIn needs a civility button.  I don’t have a problem with people expressing their opinions, just how they do it. It’s all about respect. 

Why LinkedIn civility button

My concerns are with individuals attacking the person rather than the content. I think name calling should be outlawed. When some of our most high profile leaders do not hesitate to hector and bully, insulting individuals live and on social media, they have created a culture of acceptance. You know who they are, I don’t even have to name them. This in turn filters into the workplace and social media platforms.

It is possible to report an offence on LinkedIn but the range of options is limited. You can block a LinkedIn member and you can report a post. I understand we are getting into difficult territory here when you talk about incivility because it varies from one person to another and between cultures. If you are used to disrespectful behaviour this is your normal.

Don’t feed the trolls

In general the guidelines should be:

  • Avoid direct attacks for personal opinions.
  • Focus on the issue not the person;
  • No insults
  • Do not post offensive images
  • Beware swearing or vulgarity – this can be a debate subject. Standards can change between demographics. Once again what is acceptable is a moot point.
  • Keep content professional

There are ranges of abuse from the downright offensive to mildly upsetting. The first group are extreme and clearly identifiable. For them the ground rules are clear. Report, block and move on. But there is a second more sophisticated group who cross the line in a less flagrant way, but are no less pernicious. LinkedIn needs a civility button more than ever for these people.

After two years in lock down does the line if you wouldn’t say something in a F2F meeting, don’t post it on LinkedIn. But the fact is that people do, because they can. I invited some other LinkedIn experts to share their views.

Expert input

Some tips for LinkedIn

  • Create a membership experience survey to establish what boundaries are most important.
  • Create a code of conduct based on that research and include it in the terms and conditions which members accept when they join.
  • Circulate that code of conduct to existing members when they log in. Everyone’s done it anyway for GDPR.
  • Add a wider range of behaviours other than “inappropriate” to the report options. Include personally insulting, bullying, harassment, abusive.
  • Weed out fake and troll profiles then remove them.
  • Don’t allow the creation of profiles without photos or full names. It’s a professional networking site – it holds members to account if they are visible.

It seems that I maybe a minority of 1! For me LinkedIn needs a civility button or better options for dealing with trolling, offensive and abusive behaviour. What do you think?


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