Tuesday, August 15, 2023

Sent to Coventry.


My friends Rich Siegel and Claudia Caplan--two luminaries in the ad industry--wrote to me last week. For reasons unbeknownst to them, they had each lost their voices. That is, they had each been kicked off of LinkedIn.

In our modern digital world, we have all-but eliminated accountability and responsiveness. They could find, of course, no one to talk to about their removal and no reasons behind it. Today, an inscrutable, auto-generated email counts as customer service. These platforms have reached the apotheosis of modern success. They have tremendous power and minuscule responsibility. They're almost like politicians or Holding Company executives.

In any event, Rich and Claudia wrote to me. I offered them this space and suggested a dialogue a la Bret Stephens and Gail Collins, which runs on The New York Times' op-ed page. Linked In and other social media channels is vital to the careers of many. It's how we connect, get seen, find work. LinkedIn is also a vital tool that allows Claudia and Rich to HELP others find work. As elders in the industry, I find it a great way to make professional intros and hook many juniors up with valuable contacts. That alone should earn us some dispensation.

There are so many offenders on these sites, I understand the need to banish those who spew hate or even stupidity--but at least have the decency to give them access to judge and jury.


CC: Well Rich, this is probably the last thing either of us wants to talk about.  But as we are both here in limbo or purgatory or whatever LinkedIn wants to call it, we might as well chat.

RS: It does seem odd that we’ve both been locked out of LinkedIn at the same time. I guess misery, and for that matter kvetching, does love company.

CC: So how did we get here?  

In my case, one day last week my LinkedIn account just dematerialized. I’ve had an account forever – a Premium account for which I pay $20 a month – so I assumed it was a technical glitch.  I am not one to use these platforms to rant or get into it with anyone else.  Ahem.

RS: Likewise. As many can tell you, I’m a Go-With-The-Flow type fellow and abhor rants of any sort. With the exception of my book: The Big Book of Rants, still available on Amazon. I’m allowed to pimp here, aren’t I?

Did you try to amend the situation with the highly-skilled and always pleasant LinkedIn staff?

CC: After incredible difficulty, I found an interface to contact LinkedIn. They truly do everything they can to keep their contact info secret. I literally had to watch a YouTube tutorial to find out how to contact them,  Got several messages back that they were “looking into it.”  

RS: I watched a YouTube video on how to clean the filter on my Miele Dishwasher. Now it purrs like a kitten. And my whiskey glasses come out spot free. Which is important since my consumption has increased with this latest LinkedIn kerfuffle. Now I’m even using words like kerfuffle. Who am I?

CC:  If you look at their Terms of Service, it says they’re supposed to notify you. Did they notify you?  I got bupkis.  And it also says that the only reason you’re kicked off permanently is like, child porn.

RS: No notification either. I found out while on an ill-fated flight to Miami – which ended up getting detoured to Tampa. An inauspicious start to my Caribbean vacation. 

Like you, I jumped through bureaucratic hoops to find out why I had been booted from the LinkedIn platform. Like you, I wasted endless hours trying to rectify the situation. Unlike you, I had my suspicions, which after three weeks of fruitless back and forths, proved correct. And it had nothing to do with child porn.

CC: I still have no idea why I got bumped. Something about misrepresenting my credentials. “Per our terms, you agree that you won't misrepresent your identity or post inaccurate profile information. Your appeal has been denied and your account will remain restricted.”

RS: Your credentials speak for themselves.

CC: So here I am, cut off from all of my carefully gathered business contacts.  It’s somewhere between Kafka and HUAC.  No explanation, no further conversation.  Have you no decency, LinkedIn?

RS: I managed to get further conversation. Though I’m not sure it was with a human or an AI-Enhanced Humanoid.

CC: Do tell.

RS: Turns out, I was a victim of my own righteous indignation. Some bozo was making racist remarks. And, as people of Hebraic Seasonings, we do not take that lightly. In an unfortunate turn of phrase, I called him a racist POS.

But let’s unpack that. The word racist is bandied around quite a bit these days. Perhaps rightly so, as social media is a literal cesspool of bigoted, homophobic, misogynistic and antisemitic rhetoric. One can only deduce that the “racist’ half of the equation was not the one that landed me in hot water.

Ipso facto, by the Transitive Law of Addition and Subtraction, I can only deduce that the TOS folks were peeved at my calling this gentleman a POS. But again, I must question their highly subjective judgment. In my book, POS stands for Person of Shortsightedness.

I have seen photos posted on LinkedIn of people flying the Let’s Go Brandon flag. Similarly, I’ve seen posts sporting the acronym FJB. Both mean the same thing. And because I will choose my words carefully, at least more carefully than in the past, I will leave it to the reader to do their own research.

CC: So the guy who made racist remarks is allowed to stay on LinkedIn, but the guy calling out the racist remarks is not?

RS: In a word – Yes. It’s as if we are regressing.

CC: I am expecting a shunning any day now.  I imagine I will be escorted to the border and cast into the wilderness wearing sackcloth and ashes.  Is sackcloth even cute? Is ashes a good color for me?

RS: All this puts you, me and Marjorie Taylor Cretin….er, I mean Greene, off to the same corner of Big Tech Hinterland. Or, if I may mash up my metaphors, Politics certainly does make for strange bedfellows.

CC: To anyone reading this, I hope you don’t feel smug.  It could happen to you if the Algorithm Overlords decide it’s not your day.  It’s Chinatown Jake…er…Rich.

RS: I’ll never understand the child porn thing.

Should you feel inclined, please leave a message with Ryan Roslansky, CEO at LinkedIn:



UPDATE AS OF MONDAY, August 14 at 6:15PM

Claudia Caplan

6:09 PM (6 minutes ago)
One of the things I tried last week in reaching out to LinkedIn was @LinkedInHelp on Twitter  --As you might imagine, I was pretty indignant.  Heard nothing.  But today I got this:

Then I got this:

Hi Claudia,

My name is Izabel with the Executive Escalations team and I have received your inquiry to review.

Thank you for verifying your identity.  I'm happy to tell you that I have removed the restriction from your original account.  

To regain account access, please follow these steps:

  1. Create a new password through the password reset link we’ve sent you in a separate email. This link is valid for 24 hours. If it has expired just let me know and I'll send you a new one.
  2. Once you have created a new password, you will need to confirm your email address.  To do this open the email confirmation message and click on the link.  You will be prompted to enter your new password to confirm ownership of your email address. 

Once you successfully access your account, I suggest these steps to ensure your information is correct as it may have been modified during this incident:

  1. Review your profile information and settings.
  • If your profile information has been changed or removed during this incident, you can now edit your profile to display the correct content. Please note that LinkedIn does not store previous profile information, so you'll need to update your profile if needed. 
I have yet to receive the reset email -- I got the email above about 45 minutes ago.  Still no explanation. Wondering if they figured out that they were losing $20/month on my premium subscription?  As far as I'm concerned, it doesn't change anything about what happened. And it doesn't change anything about the difficulty of communicating with them.  Reaching out on Twitter was a completely random idea.  It also doesn't change anything about their disdain for users and their draconian ways, but I wanted to share.



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