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LinkedIn CEO Wants to Curb Sexual Harassment Hidden in Private Messages

November 8, 2019, 10:18 PM UTC

Women are being sexually harassed through private message on LinkedIn. It’s a problem the company’s CEO says he’s well aware of and is trying to fix.

LinkedIn’s CEO Jeff Weiner discussed the issue at a conference in San Francisco hosted by Wired magazine, saying that it is essential for users to “self-police” in order to help the company maintain its service’s integrity. 

“We’re trying to only educate not only women but every member on LinkedIn that if that behavior is taking place to flag it, let us know about it,” LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner. “We’re going to take action.”

LinkedIn’s policies prohibit members from sending “unwelcome communications” including “romantic advances” and “sexually explicit content.” The company says it responds to reports of misuse on a case-by-case basis including warning users about their bad behavior or kicking them off.

Unlike other social media companies, LinkedIn, which is owned by Microsoft, has managed to keep its service from being overwhelmed with hate speech, abuse, and misinformation. That’s mostly because users of the professional networking service are more careful about what they post.

“The kinds of behaviors you see on other platforms are not as accepted on LinkedIn,” Weiner said. 

But the company doesn’t disclose details about the misuse that does occur, and that has been going on for some time. It also declined a request from Fortune to reveal how many times users have reported sexual harassment or the number of times the company has acted on them.

To address misuse on the service, Weiner said LinkedIn relies on a combination of technology, which can proactively flag bad behavior, and users reporting it. The company has tried to make reporting abuse easier for members over the years and regularly reminds them how to do it.

“Our priority is crystal clear members need to feel safe and secure on our platform,” said MK Juric, a LinkedIn spokeswoman. “Reporting to us is one of the best things you can possibly do.”

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