In the app, where anyone can expand their professional network, make a job offer or seek advice, it’s common for strangers to initiate conversations via LinkedIn messages to introduce themselves. In fact, the platform was originally designed for exactly this purpose.

However, a worrying trend has emerged, especially for women, as their inboxes are increasingly flooded with unsolicited provocations from men who use the platform to make romantic encounters with female professionals .

Amelia Sordell, founder of marketing agency Klowt, shared on LinkedIn a disturbing message she received from a man: “Sorry to get straight to the point, what’s your bra size I need to buy a bra for my mistress, she is beautiful. Not as good as yours though!! But her boobs are as huge as yours.”

Many women turned to Fortune to share their experiences with such inappropriate messages. Sadly, this isn’t surprising, as recent research shows that more than 90% of women say they’ve received at least one unwanted or courtship message on the platform.

For Sordell, dealing with these weekly unsolicited messages has become an unfortunate by-product of amassed a massive 140,000 followers on the platform.

Inappropriate LinkedIn message

Courtesy of Amelia Sodder

Katie Taylor-Thompson, managing director of copywriting firm Katie Lingo, has noticed a marked increase in the number of “very, very explicit” messages in 2020, a period she describes as a “peak creepy “.

many women wealth Respondents occasionally received inappropriate messages in the years leading up to the outbreak. However, various lockdowns appear to have exacerbated the problem.

Taylor-Thompson offers a theory for this phenomenon: “They can’t go out and abuse women in the street,” or, she adds humorously, “Maybe I just look better than I did because I had a professional shoot. “

Likewise, other women wealth Respondents indicated an increase in unwanted attention following increased activity on the app. Unfortunately, despite a return to normalcy, there are no signs that these unsolicited advances are fading.

Taylor-Thompson clarified that she didn’t feel the messages were violated or abusive, but they did make her uncomfortable and disappointed that women were being targeted in this way.

With the protective barrier of screens (and sometimes even continents) separating her from her senders, Taylor-Thompson generally doesn’t feel physically threatened by unwanted attention in most situations.

What is the danger in the message?

While Soder and Tyler-Thompson often took a lighthearted approach to the tasteless messages they received from various sources, they both sensed genuine concern when well-known local professionals initiated contact in their private messages.

It’s easy to assume that the people behind these intrusive messages are young pranksters, spam bots, or are located in faraway places where the #metoo movement hasn’t yet had an impact. However, the reality is different.

The bra conversation Soder received came from a former NHS finance officer, while Taylor-Thompson was described as “suitable” by a former Sony professional.

In both cases the information was reported to the men’s employers, and the women said both the NHS and Sony took action, although Sony did not respond wealth Request for comment.

Taylor-Thompson explained: “Many of the people who message me are from far away so I know they can’t get to me. However, this particular person is native to the UK and has easy access to information about my location online . While it seemed unlikely that he would come to my home, if there was even the slightest sign of potential danger, it was important to address it.”

Inappropriate LinkedIn message

Courtesy of Amelia Sodder

Unfortunately, Nadzeya Sankovich, vice president of communications for health website Health Reporter, couldn’t block and forget about the man who started complimenting her appearance on the app a few weeks ago — they work together.

Though he’s never schmoozed at company parties, the social platform has in part given him the courage to blur the lines between professional pleasantries and unwelcome provocations.

She is now forced to find alternate routes around the common areas of the office to avoid running into him. “It’s a situation like this that does get you down and you start to feel a slight but constant anxiety,” Sankovich added.

Women are taking matters into their own hands

A LinkedIn spokesperson said unwanted courtship and harassment violated its policies, which outline the types of content not allowed on the platform. wealth.

The company also strengthened its security features This helps stop harassment before users see the offending content.

“If you experience harassment of any kind on LinkedIn, please Report So our team can help protect you and others. ’ said the spokesman.

indeed, Research As it turns out, this isn’t a problem unique to LinkedIn — women are attacked from all angles on social media. However, there is a risk unique to LinkedIn that women will drop out of the platform, resulting in a lack of female representation on the app.

According to the survey, approximately 74% of women have reduced their LinkedIn activity at least once due to receiving inappropriate information Passport Photo Online Survey.

Ultimately, if female professionals reduce their presence on the platform, they may find it more difficult to connect with people in their field, build their personal online brand, and get hired.

However, most women wealth Respondents do not shy away from using the online platform in the near future. Instead, they are taking matters into their own hands.

Sankovich confronted her colleagues in person in the office, Soder blocked the offensive users and reported them to LinkedIn, and Taylor-Thompson continued to denounce them on social media.

“I feel like if you act inappropriately, you lose your right to privacy,” Taylor-Thompson said.

For women considering handing over apps to predatory men, she advises: “These platforms are really, really helpful for building your career. It’s definitely been helpful for me, so please don’t let some bad apples Ruined the experience.”

“I love LinkedIn and I will never allow people’s stupid messages to influence my strategy of posting content on LinkedIn to grow my business,” Sordell responded defiantly.

“You can let other people’s opinions and actions dictate how you feel, or you can accept the fact that people can be jerks and follow your happy path.”

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