While much of the discussion around misinformation and fake profiles has logically focused on Facebook and Twitter, given their influence on broader trends, other social platforms are also working to improve their systems, and eliminate similar types of scams and abuse.
This week, LinkedIn has outlined its evolving efforts to detect and remove fake profiles, which can be used to make connections, and then steal personal contact info from unsuspecting users.
As per LinkedIn:
"Between January and June 2019, we took action on 21.6 million fake accounts. More specifically:
- We prevented 19.5 million fake accounts from being created at registration. This means the vast majority - 95% - were stopped automatically, without ever accessing LinkedIn.
- We restricted 2 million fake accounts before members reported them. This was possible by pairing human review with artificial intelligence and machine learning.
- We also restricted 67,400 fake accounts after members reported them. Members who report fake accounts are an important part of how we keep the community safe.
- 98% of all fake accounts we prevented or took down were done so through our automated defenses, including artificial intelligence and machine learning. The rest are captured through manual review."
Given the professional focus of LinkedIn, it seems like it would be less of a focus for misinformation campaigns in particular, but as noted, there are numerous known LinkedIn scams which involve fake profiles making connections in order to steal personal information, and gain insights into your LinkedIn network.
You've likely experienced this yourself - you may have got a LinkedIn request from someone you've never heard of, from another country, with a dubious job title. In fact, job titles remain something of an issue on LinkedIn - because company pages can't stop someone from claiming that they work for that business, anyone can essentially list themself as being an employee of any company.
Case in point, apparently Social Media Today has 217 listed employees on LinkedIn. Some of them are legitimate contributors, granted, but a lot are people I've never heard of (several listed as doing my job).
Those aren't necessarily fakes, of course, they may be real people trying to present an inflated set of skills and experience, but there are many fake profiles on the platform. One easy DIY check - do a quick Google Image search of their headshot and see what comes up.
But LinkedIn has also been used within broader misinformation campaigns.
As reported by Newsweek, in an article entitled "How Russia Is Using LinkedIn as a Tool of War Against Its U.S. Enemies":
"LinkedIn provides a rich hunting ground for Russian agents. Unlike Twitter and Facebook, most of its estimated 500 million, predominantly white-collar subscribers use it to advertise their expertise, seek employment or engage with peers in expert-based discussion groups. To bolster their credentials, most - even current and former U.S. national security officials - post detailed résumés and recommendations from their colleagues. That provides fodder for Russian intelligence to gather detailed information on its most formidable critics and cast doubt on the truth of those accomplishments."
So while it may seem less of a focus, LinkedIn is actually just as susceptible to such use as other platforms.
In this sense, it's good to see LinkedIn improving its systems, and working to better protect its now 645 million member base.