Why Would Someone Create A Fake LinkedIn Profile?

I wrote an article a couple of months ago on some of the ways to identify a fake LinkedIn profile. One comment I received quite a bit was “why would someone do this?” It seems like a lot of work, for some nebulous benefits.

And it does not take a lot of work. I could build one in ten minutes and it would likely fool most people. Start with an email address and come up with a new name. Then just cut and paste everything from another profile…like yours, and copy your photo too. There. Done.

Here are four uses for fake profiles. The critical part is getting you to connect with them, because they can then indulge in a little…

Email address collection

This is the obvious one. Harvest email addresses from connections.

Identity theft

When added to the information most users include in their LinkedIn profiles, this is a good start. In addition to their email address, many LinkedIn users list their birthdays, and this is viewable by their connections.

Phishing, spear phishing and other scams

If a connection sent you a message with an attachment, would you open it? It could contain malware. How well do you know and trust this person?

Connecting adds credibility

This is the sneaky one. When you connect with someone there is your implied  endorsement that they are a real person. When they go to connect with someone you are connected with, that someone sees  you connected with them. They connect. They open the email with the attachment.

How do you fight this? When someone you don’t know invites you to connect, ask them a question. One other aspect to look for is comments on posts and articles. Faking activity by liking content or sharing it without comment is easy and fast. Taking the time to make comments on that content is not. It’s time consuming.

It’s one thing to cut and paste a profile together, but another to be taking the time to comment on posts, or publish posts.

Be careful out there.

 

A LinkedIn Allegory

(This could be a sunrise or sunset, but spam is spam. Photo courtesy Mark Johnston)

 

LinkedIn member:  I have come up with this great new social selling idea.

Me: Tell me

LinkedIn member: I put together a limited time offer, and I send it in a message to all my connections.

Me: Umm…

LinkedIn member: Hang on, here’s the best part. I can only send them one at a time, but all I have to do is copy and paste my message in, add the member name  and off it goes!

Me: Umm….

LinkedIn member: And I hire someone in the third world to take over my account and do it for me for peanuts!

Me: So you are going to send dozens or hundreds of the same message to people who didn’t ask to receive that message?

LinkedIn member: Umm…

Me: I think you just invented Spam.

Moral:

Think before you press “send”. This whole “trust” thing matters.

Keeping Your LinkedIn Network Healthy

You may have five hundred connections. You may have five thousand connections. But regardless of the number, your network should be tended to from time to time to keep it healthy. You built it to serve your purposes, and now that it is built, you have to keep it from getting unruly and out of control.

Think of your own network. There are probably times you have suffered from “connector’s regret.”

4 signs your LinkedIn network could use some pruning

You find someone on LinkedIn you would really like to meet, and seeing that they are a second degree connection, you are looking for an introduction. And then you see who is the first degree connection you will be asking to make that introduction  and it is someone you have never talked with or even exchanged messages with since you first connected with them over a year ago. And you can see they are not active on LinkedIn. If you find five people that could introduce you and they are all no good, you have a real problem.

Or you see a lot of odd people that seemingly make no sense in the “People You May Know” section. Gee, why am I getting all these people from Spain? Maybe because I just accepted the connection requests of a bunch of people in Spain. LinkedIn is just trying to help. And LinkedIn is helping by in effect asking me, “What’s with all the Spanish connections?”  

Do you suffer from low grade annoyance at your homepage feed? You see connections posting inane things and even worse, connections who comment and like inane things, clogging up your home page with worthless drivel. If you are constantly seeing this junk in your homepage feed, you have a problem. And it is kind of a problem you created because you connected with these people. If the sponsored content on your homepage is starting to look good to you, you know it is time to take action.

Then there are the people that you connect with but have never responded to one of your messages. I am a big fan of being optimistic in my connecting, but if you are going to just sit there like the monolith in 2001: A Space Odyssey, you are testing my optimism.

And course there are the people who connect with you and decide that you should be the recipient of a “special offer.”  You shouldn’t be suffering from people who treat their connections like an email list, fishing for customers and referrals with what are obviously form letters. I got a message last month from a connection offering to teach me the secret to LinkedIn. I was tempted to respond “I already know the secret to LinkedIn. It’s Don’t spam your connections with canned messages”.  

What you can and should do about an unruly LinkedIn network

For posts that annoy you: hide this post

Use the “three dot” drop down menu at the top right of the post and choose “Hide this post.” This works well for posts that are getting lots of comments and keep re-showing up in your homepage feed.

For posters that annoy you: unfollow them

From the same drop down menu, the next selection is “Unfollow”. You will stay connected with the person in question, but their content will be hidden from you. A good option for connections who are “judgmentally challenged” in their homepage activity.

For connections that annoy you: disconnect (ie: Defcon 3)

This option is for those times when the disadvantages such as spam or total unresponsiveness lead you to deciding that disconnecting is your best option. First go to your settings and privacy page, choose the middle tab “privacy” and change Profile Viewing Options to “Anonymous LinkedIn Member”. Now go to the connection in question’s profile, click the 3 dots to the right of their photo and select “remove connection” from the drop down list. LinkedIn does not inform the other person that your connection has been severed, and by being anonymous they won’t see you visited their profile. It’s all very efficient and discrete.  

Your network should be full of people that can help you and are around to do so, and of course you should be ready to offer the same to them. Keep your network clean and effective.