LinkedIn may have a reputation as the professional social network, one that can help you find work. But it also has ties to an anti-Trump activist planning to spend millions to defeat President Donald Trump in 2020. Major Democratic donor Reid Hoffman co-founded LinkedIn. He actively campaigned against Trump in 2019 and called him “worse than useless” as president. Hoffman also gave $100,000 to an organization which used fake social media accounts to manipulate an Alabama special election.
Seen in this light, it makes conservatives’ claims that their posts were hidden by LinkedIn far more plausible. In 2020, leaked audio of a conversation with LinkedIn leaders about Trump revealed the company is willing to “restrict speech” it deemed as “incitement to violence.”
One of the company’s most controversial decisions came when it chose profits over freedom by agreeing to censor content in China in order to operate in the communist country. Even while it agreed to censor its platform in China, CEO Jeff Weiner claimed, “LinkedIn strongly supports freedom of expression and fundamentally disagrees with government censorship.”
Hoffman and four others in Silicon Valley founded LinkedIn in 2003. Microsoft bought the company in 2016 for $26 billion, but the companies say it functions as an independent entity. A year later, Microsoft added Hoffman to its board. The network has roughly 660 million global users.
- Reid Hoffman told New America in July 2020, “one of the things I’ve been thinking about trying to go stimulate for the next month is an anti-Trump boycott. The various forms of enrichment with Mar-a-Lago and all the rest should not be part of an American political system. It should be protested in economic ways, as well as political ways.”
- Recode reported that Hoffman is one of several Silicon Valley billionaires spending big to help former Vice President Joe Biden defeat President Donald Trump in 2020. It claimed Hoffman “could spend as much as $100 million” on the election.
- During a meeting about diversity, Trump’s social media posts were discussed. After someone asked (hypothetically) how LinkedIn would respond if the president posted “inflammatory” remarks on the platform, general counsel Blake Lawit said: “If a leader were to make a statement on our platform that violated our rules about inciting violence, then we would take action. We’d restrict the speech.”
- In 2020, LinkedIn was sued for purportedly “snooping” on Apple users by viewing their clipboards.
- Journalist and conservative commentator Cheryl Chumley said her Washington Times article on liberal abuse of executive orders was censored without explanation.
- Buzzfeed reported LinkedIn censored a profile and activities of a critic of the Chinese government. The company claimed it was “blocked in error” and later restored the page.
- Other conservatives say content they shared on LinkedIn was hidden, as evidenced by dramatic changes of engagement and social links saying “this article is no longer available.”