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10/14/2013
09:33 AM
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LinkedIn Preps 'Block User' Capability

Feature will help end online stalkers' pursuit of victims.

When Anna Rihtar began her campaign for LinkedIn to add a block user feature, she was at the beginning of her sales career -- and in the middle of an ongoing stalking nightmare. Sadly, she was far from alone.

Rihtar worked with Change.org to bolster her earlier efforts and began a LinkedIn Privacy/Blocking Petition group on the business-oriented social media site (membership required). When I first wrote about her efforts, many were surprised that LinkedIn didn't already include this capability, which is readily available on many other social networks. All that changed recently when LinkedIn finally agreed to begin working on a block user feature.

Writing in a forum on the LinkedIn privacy group, Paul Rockwell, the company's head of trust and safety, told members that LinkedIn is building a block user feature. Rockwell also pointed participants to the redesigned Safety Center and reminded them about flagging or reporting inappropriate or threatening behavior.

The feature is not out yet, and Rockwell didn't give an estimated timeframe. That left some skeptics among the group's approximately 80 members -- many of whom say they have been stalked online.

Bonny Folkestad, a consultant who has been stalked via LinkedIn, told me in an email:

I don't know if it will change anything, since a trust has been broken. I don't know if I can ever feel safe to be honest. It is a true love/hate relationship. I really think LinkedIn, Pinterest, FaceBook, etc., should all have staff that pay attention to and welcome emails regarding concerns that people might have, that they would take customer service to the virtual world and even investigate complaints. The front end is changing so fast that the back end has to catch up. These companies are making enough money that they can afford to have staffs to protect those that use their sites. They need the ethical hackers to protect us. Actually they can't afford not to.

Read the rest of this article on Internet Evolution.

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The cybersecurity profession struggles to retain women (figures range from 10 to 20 percent). It's particularly worrisome for an industry with a rapidly growing number of vacant positions.

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Is this really a problem at all? Are the low numbers simply an indication that women do not want to be in cybersecurity, and is it possible that more women will never want to be in cybersecurity? How many women would we need to see in the industry to declare success?

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