Perverted ‘People Also Viewed’ On LinkedIn?

Andy Foote | LinkedIn, Networking, People Also Viewed, Profile
12 Jul 2013
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Question: why do some LinkedIn PAV (People Also Viewed) sections show lists of attractive women and no men? People have mentioned this phenomenon to me and I’ve noticed it before. Here’s my analysis…

 

PAV ACCORDING TO LINKEDIN
Here’s the official word from LinkedIn on the PAV section:

This box shows some of the other profiles that viewers of a LinkedIn profile have also looked at. You may see it on your own profile or on someone else’s profile. The information in the People Also Viewed feature doesn’t reveal any individual’s browsing history, including your own. If the profiles listed in the box are the same as profiles you’ve viewed, that’s just a coincidence.

 

THE “PRETTY AND VIEWED” THEORY
I have a theory. The LinkedIn PAV section is like a hotel guestbook where guests list places they’ve visited, but with PAV, people and not places have been visited and we don’t know the identity of the guest who has stayed and strayed. The theory is that sometimes a page in the guestbook becomes dominated by a succession of (male) visitors who are idly browsing the LinkedIn web looking for dates. This could explain why some PAV sections are made up exclusively of attractive women. Perhaps in this scenario PAV should be known as “Pretty And Viewed”?

 

AN EXAMPLE
I’m showing a PAV chain to demonstrate this phenomenon. I started with (1) Jenny Anchondo and cycled through (2) Rachel Aust and then to (3) Amanda Turner. Notice how their PAV sections all feature attractive women?

 

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I was then able to browse a further 14 Profiles via the PAV which all featured women-only lists:

(4) Holly Munch – (5) Angelique Lizarde – (6) Katy Clark – (7) Cruz Celina Acosta – (8) Alison Bailin – (9) Amilya Antonetti – (10) Gelie Akhenbuilt – (11) Amanda Thomas – (12) Gabrielle Bernstein – (13) Hilary Herskowitz – (14) Jenny Sansouci – (15) Ekaterina Seberson – (16) Amber Vick and ended my unbroken run with (17) Shannon Rooks. That’s as far as I could get before seeing a guy in the PAV 10. Can you beat 17? Can you find more than 17 linked LinkedIn Profiles which have women-only PAV sections? Show your work in the Comments section (the longest chain gets my ‘View Master’ Strategy Guide, $15 value).

 

3 QUESTIONS
A few questions about this theory – (1) How does it start? Does an attractive woman’s Profile become the signpost to this beauty parade? (2) Are the women in the PAV already connected in some way or are they linked by demand or ‘beauty browsing’? (3) Has the PAV section been hi-jacked (or perverted as in corrupted) by this activity and therefore lost it’s purpose & utility?

 

3 ANSWERS
My guess is that this phenomenon starts with an attractive woman’s Profile who happens to have at least one other attractive female shown on her PAV. This then leads to ‘beauty browsing’ and when numerous visitors engage in the same behavior it changes the PAV section on that Profile to reflect the most common paths taken. Reverse browsing will also ensure that the PAV becomes female-only. Put simply, the browser cycles through Profiles and comes back to the one he (or she) prefers visually, all via the PAV section. As far as I can tell, the 17 women in these Profiles are not connected professionally (they are geographically dispersed and work in a variety of industries).The final question assumes that there is a point to the PAV. If you know how to use it, PAV can be incredibly useful by giving you a picture of where someone sits in an organization, who their colleagues are and their remit (see my blog post for more about this technique). It’s the kind of background information that gives a crucial edge in a sales call or an interview. So, in that respect a hi-jacked PAV is rendered useless.

 

Is there an alternative explanation for being able to browse 17 seemingly unrelated LinkedIn Profiles and seeing only women in the PAV section (when the male to female ratio on LinkedIn is 55-45 (source: Quick Comparison Among Top Social Media Platforms)? What do you think? Please chime in with your comments.

 

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That’s all from me for this week. If you found this post useful, don’t keep it all to yourself. Go ahead and share this article with your own network (see those buttons on the sliding thing on the left?).
By Andy Foote

 

 

 

 

 

 

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5 Comments

  1. Peter Wenham says:

    Hmm I’m not quite sure of the mechanics here, Andy, but it wouldn’t be surprising for ladies to be selected (im) purely on their looks – I have to admit once or twice inviting a connection only on this basis from a list suggested by LinkedIn! (And being pleasantly surprised to be accepted too!).
    Perhaps it’s not so much a PAV as a ‘You might also be interested in..’ list? But this is unlikely to be generated by machine – you’d need to be human to select the lookers, not just the gender?
    However, some female members might object that they are ALL ‘attractive women’ – the only anomaly then is that so many on a PAV list are female.
    As a pointer to the potential benefits of getting yourself on PAV, though, this article is interesting – but seems I need to have a gender and age change to be successful in that case!

  2. Chris Ulrich says:

    Interesting phenomenon. I think that behind the scenes there must be some tally kept of the number of times someone has been “also viewed” – and that score gives them a boost in the suggestions. If a particular woman is viewed 10 times and a man once, I’m guessing the woman is more likely to appear simply based on the number of views received previously.

    • Sjef Welling says:

      Interesting indeed. I did the test and found a chain of 19 “women only” PAV’s: Ayse Plantaz, Jantje Korten, Danielle Slangen, Pascale Lieben, Nicole Schins, Ineke Dols, Stephanie Bogaard, Laura Brink, Christel van Geleuken, Alissa Gullit, Susanne Pycke, Mariëlle Hamelers, Janou Braire, Judith Oostra, Ilana Olischlager, Kim Nafzger, Julie Sassen, Kim Lemmens, Monique Bierman. There must be something true in your theory. Remarkable though, that the same women keep coming back in the PAV’s.

  3. James Bush says:

    Great Question
    I heard on NPR’s Planet Money podcast that there is a selection bias for to women in the workplace. They report that attractive people tend to make more money in the labor market. Because of this, less attractive people tend to self-select out of the traditional economy. This is relevant for women in particular, who can have fulfilling lives caring for children and home economics. The net effect being, more career-focussed women are attractive.

    There might be a similar phenomenon that makes attractive people more likely to create these social network profiles. Linkedin may favor attractiveness when it comes to page-views. This hypothesis by no means explains why PAV sections tend to link attractive women.

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