On Monday, October 11, I was responding to a request from a young professional looking to break into the glamorous career of public relations when a screen refresh occurred. I was on an unfamiliar page that informed me my account was restricted and to upload my driver’s license.
Thinking that this was some form of 2FA, I quickly scanned my license and uploaded it. I was then surprised that my account didn’t magically and promptly reopen. Instead, the screen continued to state that I was “restricted” and also linked to a list of “Do’s and Don’ts.” Panic set in. Had I inadvertently crossed some LinkedIn line?
I then proceeded to engage in normal human behavior – Google the issue until panic had ensued. Would I be permanently banned like other posters? Was I hacked? How long would this last? What about the other meetings I was scheduling using LI DMs?
Further research suggested the ban could take anywhere from 24-72 hours or up to 2 weeks or forever. Second page links called forth stories of users permanently banned who needed to create a new account. Like researching a common ailment on WebMD, I was beginning to imagine the worst.
From my partner’s LI, I had completely disappeared. Profiles with similar names but not me. I was gone. Never existed. Graduate degrees, connections, past jobs, recommendations…poof!
Thoughts about creating a new profile started to frame my thoughts. How do I ask someone who wrote a recommendation in 2008 to rewrite their original sentiment? Would friends and colleagues accept a second Warner Johnston in their life or think it was a scam? How do potential clients look up and accept my bona fides with under (gulp) 500 connections?
Me, who has backups upon backups, and copies of everything I’ve written since 2001, had no backup in place for this.
I researched other ways to get ahold of LinkedIn and found a corporate number that wasn’t helpful. I tried to find a business number as I have a paid account, and no luck. DM’d the LinkedIn Helpline and received a response that someone would look into the issue. But still no information on why I was being shunned or how long it would take. I then had the genius idea to look up connections who worked at LinkedIn but oh wait…
Throughout this experience, the importance of LI became evident to me. It is my most used pseudo-social media platform, and I’ve spent literally hundreds and thousands of hours connecting, responding, and getting my background image just right.
I woke up the following day with an email from the LI Helpdesk telling me the issue had been resolved and my account was unrestricted. No information on why this happened, but who cares. I am back. My mood improved, my skin cleared up, and I vowed to be prepared in the eventuality of a future ban.
And here is what I immediately did:
This option is the best one. You receive a Zip file with every bit of information from connections to recommendations to messages to posts. This is the Golden Ticket option.
So, in conclusion, this may have been just an algorithm issue that locked my account to ensure that I was Warner Johnston, and if so, I applaud LinkedIn for taking my data and account seriously. However, it’s also the case that I may have violated the User Agreement. We may never know.
But what we do know is that we can immediately take control of our data, save it for a worst-case scenario, and if we ever find ourselves in LinkedIn Jail, at least have a future option for rebuilding our profile.
And if you ever receive a Connection Request from a future Warner Johnston, now you know.
LinkedIn Jail is no joke! Take steps today.