Stalked On LinkedIn: Victims Complain They Can't Block Abusers

Have you been stalked on LinkedIn?LinkedIn is a great place to find a job, but as some users have learned, it can also be a great place to be found -- by a stalker. One, who asked to be identified only as Anna R., claims that a former boss who sexually assaulted her has used LinkedIn to stalk her, as BuzzFeed reported. Unfortunately, given the structure of LinkedIn, completely blocking a single person is virtually impossible.

Now some users are asking LinkedIn to improve blocking capabilities so that people don't have to feel the virtual breath of someone over their shoulder. A Change.org petition already has more than 5,700 signers. (And if that wasn't enough, LinkedIn was just hacked in a way that sent to India data that might compromise user accounts.)

Here's how Anna R. describes the alleged problem on the petition page:

I once was a victim of a sexual assult in the workplace. Being young, it was quite a traumatizing experience for me. Because of this incident, I was forced to leave my position and I never looked back, hoping to leave it behind me for good. Unfortunately, the story was only just beginning. It was the start of a stalking -- something I could have never prepared myself for. E-mails, voicemails; some threatening, some flirty, day after day. I quickly found I could ignore emails, delete voicemails, block Facebook, use privacy settings on Twitter -- yet EVERYDAY I was being looked at on LinkedIn. It really started hitting close to home when he started researching my new connections to see where they where located; if they were in a different area in which I worked for him, he would e-mail me to see if I moved and what I was doing. Little things like that started getting me really scared. <sic>

The problem that LinkedIn poses for people being stalked is the perceived lack of flexibility in blocking others. If the person has a valid LinkedIn profile, then he or she has the same access that you grant to all who aren't connected to you. Lock that person out and you also lock out potential employers because it is, after all, a professional networking site. Block everyone and you lose much of the benefit.

More: Job Hunters: It's Time To Up Your Social Media Game

Others have claimed stalking problems as well. One, Lucy Roberts in England had dated a man for 8 months in 2012. The man wouldn't desist when she had broken up with him, so he began telephoning and texting her and then going to her house. She had a harassment notice, roughly the equivalent of a protective order in the U.S., served, which meant he as not supposed to contact her.

"The only other means of notifying me of his existence and to say 'Here I am', 'Thinking of you,' or whatever he is trying to achieve is to look me up on LinkedIn where he knows I can see that he has viewed me," Roberts says. "There is no option to block him on this site like I have done with Twitter and Facebook so I phoned the police to see if this can be classed as stalking and they agreed as it made me feel uncomfortable." Not only has he looked up her profile at least twice a week, but he just tried to connect on LinkedIn with her boss.

Haven't dealt with a sexual predator and don't have an angry ex-spouse or significant other? Stalking can still be a problem.

Chris Glynn, a reporter at PEI Media, explained in an interview with AOL Jobs how someone from the past who is hostile can raise an alarm. He had an "acrimonious relationship" with a former co-worker. "When I see the person looking at my page 7 or 8 times [in a couple of weeks] ... it's disconcerting," he says. "You don't want someone poisoning other relationships, professional relationships. On a purely social site like MySpace or Facebook, it's one thing, but on LinkedIn, which is professional and based on your career, it takes on a different significance."

As Anna R. explained: "Without a blocking feature, like ones available on other social media sites, these stalkers are able to see where their 'prey' works, in which city they work, when they change jobs, when they move, etc." Even repeated indications that a stalker has looked at a profile can leave people intimidated.

Hani Durzy, LinkedIn director of corporate communications, offered the following to AOL Jobs of why LinkedIn doesn't have a block feature:

Instead, we offer much more granular control for our members. There are a number a number of different ways for members to protect themselves and control exactly what parts of their profiles and activities are visible on LinkedIn. First and foremost, members can easily disconnect from anyone of their connections. We realize that may not be sufficient, so we allow members to customize their public profiles so that only what they want to have show up on search engines appears. We make it possible for members to adjust what appears out to their networks when they take action on LinkedIn - change their title or employer, share or post interesting content, etc. We let them limit who can see their photo if they have one on their profile. We let them control what people in their network can see on their profile. And we allow them to limit who can see their connections. All of these can be used to effectively minimize unwanted connections.

That still leaves the problem of pulling information from everyone, including potential employers. Durzy replied, "We believe that the controls we currently have in place offer the right balance for our members as a whole. However, we are always evaluating the need for different features."

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D

LinkedIn isn't any different than any other form of online social media. It is subject to attacks, abuse, stalking and everything else under the Internet sun. I just don't know why some people seem to think differently.

I personally think that the idea of a professional network is excellent, but the reality is that such openness and expecting such transparency do create major problems for people who are bound to, HAVE to maintain a degree of privacy.

June 25 2013 at 11:36 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
newnewbeginnings

there not going to nothing until they are sued or until someone ends up dead!!

June 21 2013 at 9:29 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
MRJ65

Linkedin stalkers are a major problem.
Photographs help.
If you have a problem with these types, photograph their "see who's viewed your profile" use.

I agree, there is nothing more alarming than having your stalker's face repeatedly pop up, or their friends and families faces pop up on the "see who's viewed" page.
Dated, time stamped photographs go a long, long way in determining a repeated course of action or pattern of behavior.
So does a photo of a "see who viewed", an E-mail where that person categorically denies looking at it/doing it, and then another photo (after the E-mail) of the day/date/time proving that:
1. They looked at your page.
2. They then lied about it, or were not aware their computer/linkedin account was hacked and someone used their account/computer to force contact or stalk you.

Document, document, document: the best way to stop these animals from doing this.
I can prove years of stalking just by these types of photos alone.
Let alone the recordings of the telephone threats/hang up calls, the "gifts" and packages, the Key Stroke Loggers (two different programs finding these: no false positives, also photographed), the patching of my road and driveway, the holes poked in all of my window screens, etc....

Federal Stalking Statutes
Interstate Stalking (1996; 2000). Section 2261A(1) makes it a federal crime to travel across state, tribal or international lines to stalk another person with " the intent to kill, injure, harass, or place under surveillance with intent to kill, injure, harass, or intimidate another person." Furthermore, the travel must result in reasonable fear of death, serious bodily injury or substantial emotional distress either to a victim or a victim's family member, spouse or intimate partner. Section 2261A(2) makes it a federal crime to stalk another person across state, tribal or international lines, using regular mail, email, or the Internet. The stalker must have the intent to kill, injure, harass, intimidate or cause substantial emotional distress, or to place a victim or a victim's family member, spouse or intimate partner in fear of death or serious bodily injury. (18 U.S.C. Section 2261A)

"... Intimidate or cause substantial emotional distress... "
Use this law to prosecute.

June 21 2013 at 7:37 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
ddokken69

MESSAGE TO ALL THE PERVERTS AND STALKERS, you need to STOP doing drugs and get help and above STAY the HELL away from the computer Women don't need you to help!!

June 21 2013 at 5:07 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
organologist

The Mormon Church used Linked in to track down me. Granted this is not as traumatic as the woman, but I don't appreciate that group contacting me, especially after it violated its own Articles of Faith by engaging in political activity. Perhaps, in the future, I will change my opinion about that group. In the mean time, I can expect calls from the missionaries. This makes me wonder how useful Linkedin actually is. I've not found a job through it.

June 20 2013 at 10:04 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to organologist's comment
me again

actually they don't use linkedin they use the postal service. You know one of those kind of envelopes that has "Address service requested" on it. This is how they track people down. They send your new address to your new ward and that's how they find you.

I haven't found a job while using linkedin either

June 20 2013 at 11:34 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
stanleybix

Facebook is another unsecure social website! I daitly receive E-mails from family and friends that are not from family or friends, just trolls using my contact/friend list to send me their crap!

June 20 2013 at 10:02 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
hey Jj

we totally agree with -mebecarl-

June 20 2013 at 8:06 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Greg

All of you keep us entertained here at the NSA while we spend hours listening to your late night phone calls.
BTW, Nancy, I can find you without LinkedIn -- just lake last year when I got out of jail on those trumped up Stalking charges. Just ask Mary Jo and Betty -- they'll tell you.

June 20 2013 at 7:53 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
mebecarl

SOCIAL NETWORKS REALLY SUCK, DON'T THEY, FOLKS?? KEEP ON USING THEM AND TRUSTING THEM, YOU FOOLS.

June 20 2013 at 7:41 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
Velocity105

I don't understand why she doesn't close the account and open a new one with a disguise or camouflage of some kind...

June 20 2013 at 5:56 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Velocity105's comment
lilgtogirl

Because, Linkedin will verify your work experience so new employers know you are not a liar. That means that women, people with unique names, etc, will have no privacy. It is a problem since a lot of employers require Linkedin. It leaves no options.

June 20 2013 at 9:02 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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