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LinkedIn Block User Feature: What It Means

To combat online stalking, new LinkedIn feature lets you block specific individuals. Here's how it affects your account.

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LinkedIn user Anna Rihtar quit her job after a coworker sexually assaulted her in the workplace. She thought that leaving her job would end the problem. Instead, she said, the perpetrator stalked her through email, voice mail, and the only social network that did not include a block-user feature, LinkedIn.

"I could ignore emails, delete voicemails, block Facebook, use privacy settings on Twitter -- yet every day I was being looked at on LinkedIn," she said. "It really started hitting close to home when he started researching my new connections to see where they were located. If they were in a different area than where I worked for him, he would email me to see if I moved and what I was doing. Little things like that started getting me really scared."

Rihtar's wasn't the only case of stalking on LinkedIn. A thread on the social network dating back to last spring shows a number of similar experiences. One user reported being stalked on LinkedIn by a convicted felon with three counts of domestic violence. Another said he and six others were stalked by a former manager whom they had previously reported for fraud and bullying.

Rihtar started a petition on, which amassed 9,200 signatures. Last week, LinkedIn director of safety Paul Rockwell announced a new member-blocking feature on the petition.

[Got some great career advice? Share it on LinkedIn. Read LinkedIn Expands Blogging Capability.]

"We know members have requested a blocking feature on LinkedIn. I come to you today to assure you that your concerns were heard loud and clear," he wrote. "We built this feature not only because it was a feature our members requested, but because we also knew it was the right thing to do. I'm pleased to share we are rolling out a new Member Blocking feature today to all LinkedIn members."

How to block and unblock a LinkedIn user

To block a user on LinkedIn, navigate to the person's profile and click the drop-down menu next to the button in the top section of the member's profile (this button may have different names depending on your account). Select "Block or Report" next to the member's name and click continue. On the next screen, click Agree to confirm it. Once you block a member, he or she will appear on your blocked list. LinkedIn lets you block up to 50 people.

To unblock a LinkedIn user, move your cursor over your profile photo in the top right of your homepage and click Privacy & Settings. Click "Manage who you're blocking" at the bottom of the Profile tab under Privacy Controls. Find the person's name on your blocked list and click Unblock.

According to LinkedIn, you won't be able to block a member again within 48 hours of unblocking him or her. Unblocking a member does not restore a connection if you were previously connected. You'll need to send the person a new invitation to connect.

Blocking: what it means for your account
When you block a member on LinkedIn, you can't access each other's profiles and you can't message one another. If you're connected, the person will no longer be connected to you. LinkedIn will remove any endorsements and recommendations from that member and you won't see each other in your "Who's Viewed Your Profile." LinkedIn will also stop suggesting you to the blocked member (and vice versa) in features such as "People You May Know" and "People also Viewed."

LinkedIn will not notify the person that you have blocked him or her, and only you can unblock the individual. Blocking doesn't apply to information you make public, such as your public profile, content posted in open group discussions, your own public shares, and comments on Influencer posts, LinkedIn said. There are still instances in which you may see content from the person you blocked, and vice versa. For example, mutual connections may reshare content created by that person.

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Kristin Burnham currently serves as's Senior Editor, covering social media, social business, IT leadership and IT careers. Prior to joining InformationWeek in July 2013, she served in a number of roles at CIO magazine and, most recently as senior ... View Full Bio

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User Rank: Apprentice
3/26/2015 | 8:23:22 AM
Re: Your LinkedIn issues?

I wonder if you might consider a follow up to this article.

Anna Rihtar was right to push a reluctant LinkedIn into introducing this blocking feature. However, even at the time, many of us were concerned that 'anonymous' stalking was not specifically mentioned in Anna's petition, forcing LinkedIn to end or restrict anonymous browsing as well as harassment by 'known' stalkers.

As we feared, stalking has continued unabated on LinkedIn. Stalkers circumvent the blocking tool by using fake profiles, anonymous fake profiles, fake companies with fake company pages (which can direct targeted advertising at specific profiles).

Since Anna Rihtar's petition only seemed to address only part of the overall problem, new petitions have been launched on the anonymous views and fake profiles issues:

* Prohibit Anonymous Views Petition (Change)

* Universal Opt Out Petition - LinkedIn Do Not Permit (MoveOn):

* Fake Profiles Petition  LinkedIn Must aggressively Stop the Proliferation of Fake Profiles - (Change):

Privacy-protected snooping is an oxymoron. Snooping by wholly unaccountable, anonymous viewers with unknown motives and with whom it is impossible to even engage - let alone network - is in direct conflict with the core purpose of linking professionals to one another. The total cloak of invisibility that anonymity grants the miscreants, the malicious and the criminally-minded who must, by all reasoning, form part of a user community as large as 330 million+, must be rubbing their hands with delight at the inexplicable inertia on this important issue.

This "What Makes a Truly Great Product" article by LinkedIn CEO, Jeff Weiner has a comment thread peppered with terse, withering, unforgiving accusations of blind hypocrisy linked to strong opposition to anonymity on LinkedIn:

This record-breaking first ever LinkedIn Pulse post by an anti-anonymity protestor (which breaks every single article publishing convention) heaps further humiliation on the LinkedIn's CEO's article by comprehensively trouncing the latter's comparatively modest views, comments and likes totals. This phenomenal article has managed attracted over ¼ of a million views. 12,400 (1 in 20) readers agreed with the anti-anonymity perspective of the article and "liked" it . 8,600+ people responded. 94% of the responses were "prohibit/ban/end/block anonymous views/viewers" or "I agree" (with the author)
Anonymous People Using LinkedIn (LinkedIn Pulse)

In other related developments, two high profile stalking victims had their movements tracked anonymously on LinkedIn.

Suzie (Wright) Dickard:

"When I first heard about LinkedIn being a professional networking site where people could connect in a way outside of the "social media" sites, offering a structured, contained, business atmosphere I welcomed that platform as a new business owner. Shortly after joining I would receive "anonymous views" and it made me uncomfortable, for lack of a better description. This was not Facebook, Twitter, etc. where you have no idea of who crosses through your "personal" profile on a daily basis and don't expect privacy. If someone wants to creep on your pages on those particular sites, they will find a way. But, here on LinkedIn, it caught me off guard. So, why is someone choosing to be anonymous?

Years ago I 'thought' I was communicating with a parent looking for a horse for their child. Truth be known, he was a predator and my life forever took a new path. Anyone can Google my name and see my story. Am I paranoid? I would say, I am cautious, more so than I ever thought I would have had to be. Joining LinkedIn and the professionalism it offered for growing my business was an important new chapter in my life."

Taylor Woolrich:

"He found me through LinkedIn, Facebook, everything. I tried to delete things, he still found me. He hired a private investigator. We don't know exactly where he gets his information, all I know is that when I returned home, after 18 months of not seeing this man, I got back to my parents' house at 1:30 a.m. flying in from Dartmouth and at 8:30 a.m. the next morning he was knocking on my front door," Woolrich detailed. "When he was arrested by the police, they found what they like to call a rape kit in the back of his car. It consisted of a sweatshirt, firewood, maps of the area, duct tape, a rope tied into a slip noose, hunting knives and various other items."

Meanwhile has been forced into humiliating concessions in a flurry of recent class action suits which call its ethics into question:

* LinkedIn E-Mail Labor Laws Breach Class Action Settlement:

* LinkedIn E-Mail Security Class Action Settlement:

* LinkedIn E-Mail Contact Harvesting/User Impersonation Class Action Proposed Settlement:

* Looks like yet another class action suit against LI

LinkedIn claims to operate a "Members first" core philosophy. Well, It looks like it might be time for some very serious rethinking on LinkedIn's part about its relationship with its users. The warning lies in the very steep and sudden descent into oblivion that bewildered former market leaders in the Search, Chat and Social Media sectors Excite, Bebo and Myspace experienced when Google, Twitter and Facebook emerged to blindside them by giving users better choices.
User Rank: Author
2/26/2014 | 3:27:57 PM
Outrage Answered
There was a lot of outrage among a small group of LinkedIn users who said they had been stalked, in part via LinkedIn, and this feature should eliminate that issue for them. I read many of these stories on the LI group Rihtar formed, and some were heartbreaking. Delighted LI finally put this into place -- although like everyone here, unsure why it took so long since most social networks have this capability. I can't imagine being stalked by a stranger through a business networking site. Whereas I could and would leave Facebook, leaving LI would damage my ability to do my job. And I'd resent it, as it's the person who's not in the wrong who's being penalized by being forced to leave. 
Drew Conry-Murray
Drew Conry-Murray,
User Rank: Ninja
2/26/2014 | 9:42:00 AM
Re: No brainer
I agree, this seems like a no-brainer. I wonder why it took so long to have it added.
User Rank: Author
2/25/2014 | 4:36:58 PM
No brainer
This kind of option seems like a no-brainer. Some people would ask, what held LinkedIn back from offering this sooner?
Marilyn Cohodas
Marilyn Cohodas,
User Rank: Author
2/25/2014 | 4:32:17 PM
Re: Your LinkedIn issues?
I'm with you Kristin. I find it annoying when people who don't know me recommend me for some professional skill but I don't feel abused by LinkedIn. The social and promotional spam I get in my gmail inbox is much worse. At least Googel separates it now from my "primary" mail so I can ignore it!
Kristin Burnham
Kristin Burnham,
User Rank: Author
2/25/2014 | 1:30:29 PM
Your LinkedIn issues?
Have you had a situation where a blocking feature on LinkedIn would have come in handy? I've been bombarded before with annoying pitches from sales reps, but never to the extent that some people have experienced.
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