Today’s post involves yet another little tangent. This one has to do with LinkedIn, the business-oriented social network.
My wife and I do some writing and blogging from a dedicated website we’ve built for that purpose. I’m not going to name the site here as that’s not the intent of this post — I’m not advertising, and I’m not interested in breaching AngloINFO’s rules for its bloggers. We write under pseudonyms — pen names — because we value our privacy, and because some of our material might be seen in some quarters as controversial.
My better half was poking around on LinkedIn. She noticed that the community, which is huge, has within it quite a number of artists, musicians and writers. She thought (not wrongly, in my opinion) that this would probably be a good place to establish a presence, connect with writers and readers interested in her sort of material, etc.
I checked with LinkedIn before she created her account, as its rules require accounts to be in real names. LinkedIn confirmed that the rules did require true names. However, it recognized the legitimate need of authors to work with pen names, and indicated in writing that it permitted this sort of account as an exception to the usual rules.
My wife was delighted. She built a profile based on her actual life-and-work experience, but she did it all under her pseudonym. She activated the account with no problems, and was away to the races. She began making connections, joining groups, posting comments and articles — the whole deal. She was starting to receive very positive feedback when, as a result of a question about some other matter that she posed to LinkedIn’s Support department, she was advised that she could not, in fact, have the account in her pseudonym after all. They would, they told her, allow her to attach a “nickname” to her account, but her real name would still be visible to anybody who searched her out. Obviously, this was not what she’d wanted. It would have defeated the whole purpose of using a pen name in the first place.
There was some back and forth between her and LinkedIn Support. Essentially, they refused to acknowledge the advice LinkedIn provided to us in writing, even though she copied the correspondence to them. I’m guessing the reason for this was that if they’d acknowledged the advice we’d received, she’d have been legally entitled to rely on it. Instead, they fed her some nonsense about passing her ideas on to management, working hard to make changes, blah blah. By the time she was through with them, she was more than a little put out.
I can’t say that I blame her. If they’d wanted to enforce their rules, they should have done so uniformly, and they shouldn’t have given permission to create the account in her pen name. They should have had the decency to own up to their error, but apparently, they weren’t up for that either. I gather that she’s now canceled her account, and advised LinkedIn that she intends to be blogging herself about her experience with them.
The message is simple: if you’re a serious writer and you’re using a pen name (something which, by the way, is perfectly legal), you needn’t bother trying to work with LinkedIn. You’ll be wasting your time and effort. And whatever you do, DON’T rely on any permission they may give you to do something as an exception to the rules. It’ll likely come back to bite you. If they continue to behave as they’ve done in my wife’s case, they ‘re unlikely to take any responsibility for their own words and actions.
Okay, I feel better now. Next post, we’ll be back to our regularly scheduled programming.