I came to know about LinkedIn permanently restricting (in other words ‘banning’) Dr. Aniruddha Malpani only yesterday!
Who is he? He is an IVF specialist, and a Founder of the angel investment firm Malpani Ventures, which invests in early-stage startups. More on him.
I have frequently stumbled on his posts on LinkedIn and found him on Twitter after I learned about the ban by LinkedIn.
The sheer irony is that they continue to charge him, as a premium member!
He has shared a screenshot of the email he received from LinkedIn, to ‘explain’ his ban. A one-sentence explanation that does not seek his view and a list of links he had posted against one company – Byju’s.
Given his role as an investor, having an established LinkedIn profile is an important factor in asserting his credentials, besides his own page on his own website. Not finding him on LinkedIn could have someone thinking along the lines of, “Huh? He’s not on LinkedIn? That’s odd – what does he have to hide?”.
This is downright atrocious and a form of bullying. If Byju’s has a problem with his relentless tirade against them, they have every right to complain to LinkedIn, or any platform where he shares his views.
But, for LinkedIn to accept only Byju’s side of the story and simply go by the ‘number of postings’ as some major yardstick to prove his ‘culpability’ is utterly ridiculous.
If you see the way LinkedIn’s email starts, it says, “LinkedIn has received a claim that alleges that you have posted defamatory content”. Does it explain what LinkedIn did beyond simply receiving this claim and listing the posts? What fact-finding did LinkedIn perform over and above reading a claim from the-one-who-would-not-be-named?
I’d have expected LinkedIn to seek his side of the story and then do one of the following that would seem fair:
- Warn him, if that is warranted at all (his’ is a point of view; Byju’s, a far bigger entity than one man, could counter his points of view on their own, without trying to silence him in a platform completely)
- Offer to hide/remove his Byju’s related posts only and warn him (if that is warranted at all, again)
- Ask Byju’s to take a hike and sort it out on their own, through means that do not involve any action from LinkedIn.
Did LinkedIn warn him? That is inconclusive, but seeing that terse email from LinkedIn, it doesn’t seem to be the case. If they had warned him, the email should have included a reference to it before going on to pronounce the verdict of a permanent ban.
Right now, it simply looks like Byju’s is a massively powerful bully that can even scare LinkedIn to comply with their demand.
LinkedIn itself officially lists 5 reasons as examples of why your account may be restricted:
- An unusually large number of page views from the account.
- The name used in the account profile is in violation of our User Agreement.
- We’ve detected inappropriate or illegal activity on the account.
- A history of repetitive abusive behavior on the account.
- We’ve detected that the account may have been hacked or compromised.
This help page does not include, “Frequent posts on a particular company that may be seen as defamatory by that company” as one of the reasons.
And LinkedIn’s email to Dr.Malpani clearly explains the reason from their side – the explanation amounts to, “See, you are targeting Byju’s too frequently. Here, allow us to stop you from doing so”.
In another help page, LinkedIn says, “Due to significant variation in the way defamation / reputational harm laws operate in different countries, our defamation claim process can vary depending on where you live. In some countries, including the United States, we generally require a court order before removing content on defamation grounds. It is often more productive to contact the individual who posted the content directly and attempt to resolve the matter”.
That was simply about the removal of content – here, they have gone several steps ahead permanently banned a member – a paying, premium member, at that! LinkedIn’s own email clearly calls out ‘defamatory content’ as the reason for the block. So, LinkedIn itself accepts that they do not need a court order in India to act on their own, at the behest of a powerful company.
This is a hugely disappointing behavior by LinkedIn.
I have very, very often supported LinkedIn and propagated the platform as the last bastion of sane conversations on the internet (largely) even amidst relentless jokes by others around it.
But this act by LinkedIn is terribly unfair and completely arbitrary.
Here is Dr.Malpani’s set of posts on Byju’s, on his own website.