Why LinkedIn SWAM is Causing Concern

Businesses and individuals who use LinkedIn to promote and network on a regular basis will have become aware of the LinkedIn SWAM policy. It stands for Site-Wide Automatic Moderation and was introduced for the noble purpose of reducing the amount of spam on discussion groups.

LinkedIn SWAM allows moderators and users to block and delete comments or posts if they feel they are spam. While this sounds fine on the surface, it has posed numerous problems for many users of the site.

One of the side effects of being blocked under the LinkedIn SWAM policy is that your other posts in other groups you are part will be put into an ‘awaiting moderation’ mode. Unfortunately, quite a few LinkedIn groups are not moderated, which leaves your post hanging there with no one to give it the thumbs up.

There are differences in being blocked by the moderator and being flagged as spam by another member of the group. If the moderator decides you are to be blocked it is a permanent decision and the only way to get by this is to plead your case with the individual involved. If you are flagged by another group member it only leads to a temporary suspension – you are blocked for a week or more and then reinstated. Inconvenient but not the end of the world.

linkedin swamLinkedIn have been accused of developing a blunt instrument that doesn’t tackle the problem of spam properly. Most spammers will create a new account and rejoin the group they have been blocked from without missing a beat, while many reputable businesses and individuals have been blocked for transgressions that can be real, perceived or wrongly moderated.

Groups are high on the list of useful LinkedIn tools. They allow businesses and individuals to meet, interact and become known in their communities. The LinkedIn SWAM problem has got so bad for some that support groups have been formed for people who have suddenly found, through no real fault of their own, their entire group activity consigned to the LinkedIn SWAM moderation black hole.

LinkedIn Swam is having an adverse effect on LinkedIn too. According to Gary Ellenbogen, who runs a support group, a quarter of the people he deals with who have been SWAM’d for no reason are considering cancelling their premium membership. That could mean a significant loss of revenue to the platform if discontent over the moderation program continues to grow.

LinkedIn, however, say that their SWAM initiative is working and that the number of ‘individuals’ that have been blocked is in the region of 100 to 200,000. They state that the number of spam posts has decreased by 30-50% and that they are not planning any further changes to the moderation policy now in place.

That could mean that users will have to deal with it for the time being. Many complain that it gives less trustworthy businesses and individuals the chance to get one over on their competitors. There are however some simple tips that can help reduce your chances of being a victim of LinkedIn SWAM:

  • Read the groups guidelines for posting.
  • If you have something contentious that you want to post then contact the moderator first to make sure it is okay to publish in the group.
  • Understand the other people in the group and don’t post anything that will offend or annoy them.

Like many innovations on social media platforms, LinkedIn SWAM was introduced for a good reason. Whether it needs or will be modified in the months to come will depend on the furor that it causes among LinkedIn’s 600 million users.


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Why LinkedIn SWAM is Causing Concern — 4 Comments

  1. Once you look PAST the borders of Linkedin SWAM, you see that is going to be part of a much bigger automated censoring picture that os secretly going to be rolled out over ALL SOCIAL MEDIA PLATFORMS 😉 Simply connect the dots accros the entire (a)social media landscape, and start to think for yourself 😉 This algorithm is intended to automatically shut up voices (and businesses) on line in the near future

    • Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment. An interesting hypothesis 🙂 Time will tell, but I wonder if LinkedIn are trying to steer us away from communicating in groups with their new ‘Publish’ to LinkedIn feature?!?!
      What would be really handy is to be notified which group has SWAM’d you… personally I don’t want to post to a group who doesn’t want me to… common sense dictates I remove myself from such groups and concentrate only in those that welcome the content I share and I can’t do that if I don’t know which group the SWAM originated from. Would also be nice if the moderator had mentioned they didn’t want me to post rather than choose this method. Of course it may not be a group moderator, it maybe a LinkedIn staff member or another member of the group, i.e. possibly a competitor…. alternatives, a)remove myself from all groups except for those I manage. b) continue to take my chances or c) leave LinkedIn and focus on connecting via other social sites. I remain undecided and am sitting on the fence awaiting developments, by default choosing b) for now 🙂

  2. Good analysis – thank you. What worries me about SWAM is the way unscrupulous competitors or rivals can use it to adversely affect your genuine, rule-abiding posts on LinkedIn. I was SWAMed once and I am 99 percent certain it was a bitter competitor who thought she could get at me with that tool. I know a number of other people who have been SWAMed several times now not because they are spammers – far from it – but because they are outspoken, candid individuals who say what they think, which annoys the more faint-hearted. LinkedIn may say they are happy with the way the SWAM initiative is working, but are they happy with the fact that is is being used as a baseball bat for bullies to silence others brave enough to speak out?

    • I think we have similar experiences Susan! I agree wholeheartedly it seems to be a blunt object that unscrupulous people (I won’t call them competitors because they don’t fit the definition) use to temporarily silence you. However, with just a few tweaks this could be a very effective anti-spam tool. We can but wait and see how LinkedIn deal with future updates. In the meantime, if you are SWAM’d unfairly then write to LinkedIn, if enough of us do that they may take notice… alternatively we can vote with our feet as a number of people already have.
      Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment Susan – Best wishes, Jules

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