We may think that the social side of the Internet is like your own neighborhood — it can be at times comfortable and friendly, and at other times, it can be dynamically changing, flooding with news of friends and family and new invites. But is it safe to friend everyone, even people you think you “know”? Should you accept every LinkedIn connection? Well, based on the experience of others and my own community management experience, it might be best if you use a healthy dose of discretion when making social connections online.
There is a known scam on Facebook, where a scammer, using your real friend’s image, gets you to friend him or her, then immediately starts messaging you with the old “wire money somewhere” scenarios. The Better Business Bureau has a blog post describing the scam, and how to prevent yourself from falling for it. And how to report nefarious types to Facebook.
So there are lots of folks that I know who rarely use Facebook or Twitter, but they love LinkedIn. “It’s professional,” they will tell me. However, that doesn’t mean LinkedIn is safe from scammers or spammers.
In my daily social media reading, I came across an article about the Dark Side of LinkedIn. The author writing in Inc. explains how LinkedIn is now used by the sales spammers. Steve Cody writes:
While countless articles rightly tout LinkedIn as the channel on which to network and build business, it’s also morphed into a watering hole for thinly disguised salespeople seeking to ensnare you in their trap.
His advice to prevent this includes doing research before accepting a connection, culling your connections regularly (e.g. former vendors who now just hit you up for sales) and being wary of imposters.
LinkedIn Group Spam
Just as people try to send spam messages through LinkedIn’s message system, they also infiltrate LinkedIn Groups and put up repeated messages or unrelated ones.
As a moderator of a fairly large LinkedIn Group, I was very careful on who I allowed into the group. (It was a closed group. Open groups are just a nightmare, in my opinion.) By being careful about who was allowed into the group, I was able to minimize the amount of “junk posts.” So for example, I looked at the person’s company (look for brand names). I looked at the person’s title. Sorry, but marketing and sales people dilute the experience. So I very carefully let in a minimum number of those types and allowed more people with the appropriate titles into the group. And I monitored the postings daily, so the worst they spammers could do was post something that was up for only a day.
As we all learned in the early days of email, there really is not a Nigerian prince who needs your help. All connections are not coming from Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood. Take precautions with a healthy dose of skepticism, and you will be able to minimize your exposure to scam artists and be able to use these tools effectively.