LinkedIn is a professional networking site that allows members, of which 1 million join per week, to build up contacts in their given field or industry. Once a contact network is built through linking relevant people together, members can then use the site to find jobs, people and business opportunities recommended to them by others in their contact network. It also allows users to research the companies they are interested in, giving stats on such things like male/female employee ratios, percentages of the various positions held within a company, and lists of current and past employees. It has been referred to as “Facebook for grownups”.
LinkedIn was recently blocked in China where there are strict controls over what citizens can view online. It seems China have increased the level of filtering in response to the wave of uprisings across the Middle East.
Governments overlook the importance of social medial at their peril. Failure to act responsibly, in general and when specifically dealing with social networks and their access, can lead to the ultimate downfall of a regime. Social networks have become the latest popular channels for dissent, replacing on-the-ground leaders and word of mouth. Social media reaches a huge percentage of the national population and the international community, its messages can gain support from tens of thousands of people in a matter of days.
For this reason it would be unwise for any government to overlook the impact of social media. Yet, they need to tread delicately. Those regimes that have been too heavy handed in terms of social network access have ultimately been beaten by the techno-geeks and eventually overthrown. This somehow, is unsurprising. After all, the government are playing on their turf now.