UPDATE – July 28, 2022: Another one of my posts was deleted by LinkedIn. I requested a second look, and that too confirmed the rejection. Here is that post.
[This post uses words with ‘—‘ in place of the actual letters to avoid this post/website being blocked by corporate servers/firewalls. I have heard this from quite a few people.]
Like I do every single day, I shared my perspective on a new ad campaign by a brand on LinkedIn on July 13th.
But unlike any other day, I received an email from LinkedIn about my post!
Hmm! “does not comply with our Professional Community Policies on a—t content”, huh? But what was it, specifically? I couldn’t fathom the specific reason, but considering there was an option to seek a review, I wrote to LinkedIn requesting the same.
In the meanwhile, I shared a post expressing my disappointment with LinkedIn.
Stunningly enough, the original post is still visible to me (only me), but the follow-up post where I expressed my disappointment and had tons of comments from people completely vanished from my own timeline! No email, no alert, no warning, no reason, no context – just deleted from LinkedIn, presumably by LinkedIn!
In fact, I continue to see the post in my notifications with people’s comments, but when I click on it, it goes to an error page!
So I posted the same post later in the evening, and that—thankfully—remains! The text is exactly the same, as is the image, and yet, the first one is magically missing and the copy remains!
Then I got the review update from LinkedIn and it upheld the earlier decision to keep my original post private.
Here are some thoughts/observations from this bizarre episode.
1. Content moderation happens but it is unhelpful
Sure, let the content be moderated. After all, the platform belongs to LinkedIn (or any social media platform, for that matter) – the policies are its own, the rules are its own, and we mere users need to abide by those rules. I get all that.
In fact, I have read LinkedIn’s content policies very, very closely considering I get emails from LinkedIn Advisors Team frequently and I fill their surveys very promptly to give the platform feedback on assorted topics.
So I make sure I read the policies closely to understand the details.
But what is my takeaway from the episode described above, as a user? Was my original post made private (visible only to me) after it reached a LOT of people (and no one complained about it in the comments, at least) because of,
1. the video?
2. my text that accompanied the video?
3. was it the hashtag I used?
4. was it the subject itself? (s–, se—l pleas–e, self-ple—-e)
I have no clarity at all. The email simply throws at me the broad guidelines that I have already read and re-read. It may have been far more helpful to specify the part that led to this post being banned.
But I presume the moderation was carried out by a bot/machine (based on a set of rules, most probably around keywords). So the email I received too seems generic, without any specific inputs.
So, could at least the review process have happened with human intervention? I’m not sure since the post-review email too is equally generic and monumentally unhelpful.
In the end, I have not learned why my original post was removed, because of which I don’t know what I shouldn’t do on LinkedIn which could lead to another one of my posts being hidden/made private!
2. The deletion of the follow-up post
If the hiding of the original post was odd, the removal of my follow-up post was outright bizarre. I almost pictured a LinkedIn India employee reading it, shaking his/her head in anger, and hitting the employee-privileged master-delete button to remove my post! Of course, that may not be how it played out 🙂
If I were to look at it dispassionately and give LinkedIn algorithm some benefit of the doubt for the action on the original post, I guess it may be because of certain words like s–, ad—, plea—-, and so on.
But then the question arises – why was the follow-up post completely deleted outright? Why didn’t LinkedIn bother to do what they did with the original post where I was given at least a rudimentary explanation? More importantly, why wasn’t the follow-up post simply made private/hidden like the original post? Why was it just zapped out of existence?
I have no clue whatsoever.
3. I wasn’t the only one!
At least 2 people from Afaqs commented—one in my follow-up post and one in the report of the deleted follow-up post—that their post on TTK’s Love Depot too was hidden from LinkedIn before it was reinstated some time later. This was Afaqs’ post:
One, it doesn’t have the video (mine did). But it does have the s– and the ple—– words! So, would it be right to deduce that it may have been the addition of the video that led to my original post being hidden from LinkedIn?
If that was the case, I wonder if The Glitch, the agency, or TTK Healthcare, the owner of Love Depot, could get away by sharing their professional piece of marketing communication on LinkedIn! Or, would they need to merely link the piece of work and not natively upload the video?
While they write about their professional piece of work, are some words barred as per LinkedIn’s content policies? There are more questions than answers from LinkedIn’s content moderation.
4. NEVER write your content directly on a social media platform
This is a lesson I learned early on, at least a decade+ ago. If you write your content directly on the text box of a social media platform, and that content is blocked/removed/deleted, you have no way of retrieving what you wrote even to simply understand why it was deleted. This is less for the impulsive shares (like on Twitter) and more for the thought-through shares that you put some effort into. The thumb-rule for MS PowerPoint applies here too – do not think on an empty PowerPoint slide or the LinkedIn text box. Think outside of the platform you intend to share it and only copy-paste it once you have done.
Social media platforms just don’t care for your content no matter how important you think you are. Treat anything and everything you post online, on any platform as fleeting and temporary, because it truly is. This includes even this blog I’m writing in – a self-hosted blog.
I usually write on a digital, cloud-notepad and keep a copy of what I wrote on Google Keep, which is fleeting too, incidentally, as it is hosted on the cloud 🙂 But so far, my Google account has been more consistent than social media platforms. It helps that I color-code each Keep note with a dedicated color for each social platform I shared that in, and then the URL of the post once it is posted. This helps with quick search and reference later.
Bottomline: I’m not upset with LinkedIn for making my post private. I’m a lot more disappointed that they have no meaningful way of moderating content. I spend a lot of quality time trying to be as useful with my content as humanly possible and within the area of communications. And I take a lot of effort to not waste the audience’s time, however tiny it may be.
I’m even more disappointed that they actually deleted a post of mine with no warning or context whatsoever. That’s pretty bizarre even by the standards of whimsical social media platforms with no accountability.
I wouldn’t extrapolate this disappointment to insinuate that LinkedIn is a prude. The algorithm that decided to make my post private is not a prude in the sense of the meaning we ascribe to humans. It’s perhaps simply using a word-based match to decide what content to retain and what to hide and is not really intelligent enough to understand the context of it being about a legitimate industry and a legitimate product.
But shouldn’t at least the review include some human factor?
Why bother calling it a review if it is simply going to parrot what the first warning mentioned without any additional context to make me understand some kind of specifics?
Why assume that nobody cares about their content and that a platform like LinkedIn can get away with blatantly deleting a post without any indication or context?
Why not respect the people who use the platform?