Since its inception in 2003, LinkedIn has become the world’s largest professional network, with over 830+ million registered members from more than 200 countries in February 2022. It is a powerful platform that allows users to connect with one another, share ideas and opportunities, and build strong relationships. For many users, LinkedIn is an essential tool for networking, job-hunting, and business development.
Despite its many advantages, LinkedIn has faced some challenges in recent years in regard to the authenticity of its profiles. This problem was compounded by the fact that LinkedIn didn’t have a reliable verification process for profiles, making it easy for people to create fake or misleading accounts.
Why somebody would create a fake LinkedIn profile?
There are a number of reasons why someone might create a fake profile on LinkedIn. Some people do it to boost their own credentials by adding false information about their education or work experience. Others create fake profiles for spamming or scamming purposes. Whatever the reason, fake profiles can damage the credibility of LinkedIn as a platform and cause issues for users who are trying to connect with others for genuine reasons.
Here are the top reasons why fake LinkedIn profiles exist and why they are not going to disappear anytime soon:
- To collect email addresses
- To sell and offer services
- To get endorsements
- To create a positive image
- To connect with people, they wouldn’t normally be able to connect with
- To gain access to restricted groups
- To spy on competition
- To generate leads
- To build a database of targeted individuals
Do companies use fake profiles on LinkedIn?
It can be difficult to identify, but some companies do create fake profiles for marketing or recruiting purposes. For some groups and companies, the fake profiles they created become the way they earn money. They scrape profiles and sell data to other companies, who use this data for talent mapping or to create a list of people to target with a business proposal and investment opportunities.
How to spot a fake LinkedIn profile
Fake profiles are always going to be part of any social network because they are a good way for some people to earn money and for others to get information about competitors or from the market. You can learn how to spot them, but they are not going to disappear. There are a few red flags to watch out for:
- The profile has very few connections
- The profile photo is unprofessional or generic
- The profile information is vague or incomplete
- The profile has few endorsements or recommendations
If you come across a profile that you suspect is fake, you can report it to LinkedIn.
What does LinkedIn do to prevent fake profiles?
LinkedIn published an update in August 2019 describing how it successfully fights against fake profiles on the network. Between January and June 2019, it took action against 21.6 million fake LinkedIn profiles, preventing 19.5 million fake accounts from being created at registration and restricting two million fake accounts before members reported them and 67,000 following member reports.
LinkedIn is introducing new features to help users spot fake accounts. The company says that 96% of fake accounts are already removed using automated defences, but the new features will give users more control over whom they engage with on the platform.
LinkedIn is also rolling out the ability to verify profiles using a work email address or phone number. LinkedIn is introducing a new “About this Profile” section, that will show users when an account was created and last updated, as well as whether it has been verified using a work email or phone number.
LinkedIn is introducing a new “suspicious activity” alert for users to improve its technology to detect and remove accounts using AI-generated profile photos.
In a conclusion, fake LinkedIn profiles are not going to disappear overnight, so users need to be cautious when receiving requests from strangers.