The enshittification of LinkedIn

The enshittification of LinkedIn
Photo by Florian Peeters / Unsplash

My last social bastion of interesting (and polite) social exchange on an internet platform might be going away. I'm referring to LinkedIn announcing testing new options for 'content creators' and ways to monetize the platform for them.

You have to remember that LinkedIn does monetize its users, offering paying tiers to get more tools and visibility when posting or searching for a job (which is perfectly fine and probably a fair value proposition – although I wouldn't know as I never had to use the platform in such a way for the last fifteen years.) But they also have a full advertising business for businesses as well. Mostly my feed is all about conferences I don't go to anyway or random companies launching new "amazing" technologies I don't care about. It's pretty bad but it doesn't bother me so much as my brain filters this crap out rather efficiently.

But now? Now, LinkedIn might be pushing further into the dreadful 'creator economy' where everyone is enticed to post clickbaity news for superficial readership engagement...

According to Digital Information World:

One of the key areas of focus for LinkedIn is the ability for creators to earn money through paid events. This feature would enable creators to host virtual events, such as workshops or presentations, and charge attendees for access. This presents a significant opportunity for professionals who possess specialized knowledge and skills to share their expertise with a wider audience while monetizing their efforts.
Additionally, LinkedIn is exploring options to integrate brand partnerships into the platform. This would involve connecting creators with relevant brands interested in collaborating on sponsored content or campaigns. By facilitating these partnerships, LinkedIn aims to create a mutually beneficial ecosystem where creators can showcase their skills and reach new audiences, while brands can leverage the influence and expertise of these individuals.
Moreover, LinkedIn is experimenting with a "Creator Badges" program. Similar to badges on other social media platforms, these badges would provide a way for creators to showcase their expertise and establish credibility within their respective niches. This program could also potentially unlock additional benefits for badge holders, such as increased visibility and access to exclusive features.

This spells disaster.

And to quote Cory Doctorow, the 'enshittification' of LinkedIn might have started.

To summarize what he means by 'enshittification,' there's a natural tendency of two-sided platforms like Google, Facebook, or Amazon (the one with ads) to become shittier to make more profits.

When a platform starts, it aims to attract users by offering value. Amazon, for example, operated at a loss initially, subsidizing purchases and shipping. Its search function was efficient, prioritizing products based on searches. This attracted customers en masse, leading to the introduction of Prime membership, making them pre-pay to access low (if any) shipping costs all year round. Then Prime customers started to shop exclusively on Amazon, luring more and more business customers in, transforming Amazon into an "everything store." Suppliers were subsidized, and low commissions were charged to Marketplace sellers.

Perfect flywheel effect.

After a few years, though, this started to limit consumers' choices, as Amazon became the primary search destination. And in this game, sellers had to list their products on Amazon. What did Amazon do next? Milking business customers by imposing high fees on Marketplace sellers and pressuring them further on advertising by offering to bid for top search positions à la Google. This skewed search results, favoring those who paid the most over relevance.

Fast forward to now, and you can't find anything properly on Amazon anymore without being spammed by shitty offers and scammy products. The 'enshittification' is achieved.

This is enshittification: surpluses are first directed to users; then, once they’re locked in, surpluses go to suppliers; then oncethey’relocked in, the surplus is handed to shareholders and the platform becomes a useless pile of shit. From mobile app stores to Steam, from Facebook to Twitter, this is the enshittification lifecycle. - C. Doctorow, Tiktok's enshittification

This happened to every ad-supported platform to this date, and you know that any such platform that appears today with this model will go down that road.

Quitting Twitter a few weeks ago wasn't too hard, but I'd be really bothered to lose LinkedIn, even if it's going to take a few years...


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