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Businesswoman inundated with sleazy messages on LinkedIn


A businesswoman has slammed LinkedIn for not doing enough to stop sleazy users – after she was inundated with ‘inappropriate’ messages and followers when she deliberately shared a photo of her cleavage.

Maddy Alexander-Grout ran the cheeky ‘experiment’ by sharing a photo of herself wearing makeup and a slightly low-cut top on the professional platform on Sunday to mark a milestone in her parenting advice app business.

The 38-year-old admits the photo was a pre-meditated ‘test’ to prove that women are sexualised even in a professional capacity, where it is ‘even more inappropriate’.

The post saw the businesswoman’s followers rocket by more than 150 in around 24 hours after the post, the majority of which she says are men in unrelated fields.

Meanwhile some even paid to message her to make sleazy comments about her breasts or to express unprofessional interest in her as a result of her appearance in the photo.

LinkedIn said sending inappropriate messages ‘are unacceptable in any context and are a violation’ of their policies and confirmed they were taking ‘a closer look’ at Maddy’s situation as it was ‘her right to feel safe’ on the platform.



She was amazed by how much her engagement levels increased


© Kennedy News and Media
She was amazed by how much her engagement levels increased

Maddy, from Shirley, Southampton, said: “I’ve never had an unsolicited message before and I kind of wanted one just to see if it would work.

“There were loads of men saying ‘hi, I really want to connect’, ‘hi lovely’, ‘hi babe’, things like that.

“The worst one was ‘massive t*ts’ – I was like, that’s really gross. I didn’t reply to any of them, I just blocked them all.

“Some people were sending InMails to me so they’ve obviously paid for that [because we’re not connected], which is ridiculous.

“It’s supposed to be a professional platform so they’re completely inappropriate – they’d be inappropriate on any platform but on LinkedIn where you’re there to do business it’s worse.

“The thing is it’s not even that much, it’s a tiny bit of cleavage, it’s not like I’ve got full on nipple tassels on.

“The fact that I’m posting about a parenting app makes it even more inappropriate as well.”

The post with the photo of Maddy has now had more than 150 likes and 100 comments, and she says there have been a whopping 13,000 views.

In this time, her following has jumped by more than 150 people, to almost 13,500, which she says is the biggest increase she’s ever had in such a short space of time – just days following the post.

Besides increased engagement on her profile, the businesswoman says the ‘experiment’ also had the desired effect of showing that sexualisation happens to most women, as she stepped out of her usual ‘mum look’ to prove her point.



Maddy Alexander-Grout ran the cheeky 'experiment' by sharing a photo of herself wearing makeup and a slightly low-cut top on LinkedIn


© Kennedy News and Media
Maddy Alexander-Grout ran the cheeky ‘experiment’ by sharing a photo of herself wearing makeup and a slightly low-cut top on LinkedIn

Maddy, who runs parenting advice app named Parenthood, said: “I’ve literally never done anything like this before, it’s really out of character for me. I never post anything that’s not me in a mum bun, doing mum bun stuff.

“I never wear makeup so it’s weird for me to even post a picture of me wearing makeup let alone with a bit of boob out to be honest.

“I’m not somebody who, in a general situation, that somebody would scroll through my feed and think ‘she’s really hot, I’m going to send her a message’, which is kind of why I did what I did – to prove a point that it happens to all women.

“I want people to be messaging me and reading my posts because they appreciate what I do as a business woman, not because I got my boobs out.”



Some of the messages were incredibly creepy


© Kennedy News and Media
Some of the messages were incredibly creepy

After ‘proving her point’, Maddy made another post revealing her ‘experiment’ and its outcome, which she says received a similarly respectable 10,000 views and more than 100 comments.

Disappointed female commenters highlighted how ‘common’ the issue is whilst some men also commented in support of Maddy’s message about how inappropriate the messages were.

Heather Howe said: “Sorry to hear you had to put up with this. It’s not OK and it’s so disappointing that it’s become so common.”

Chris Hampson said: “This is absolutely vile Maddy!”

Meanwhile others questioned the ‘experiment’, saying that Maddy’s post itself was ‘inappropriate’ and the fact that she intentionally elicited the response undermines her point.

Jan G. said: “You proved a very valid point: when you post inappropriate posts you get inappropriate responses…”

Owen Gibson said: “Umm what did you think was going to happen??”

To which Maddy responded: “It’s a**hole comments like this that make this post exactly correct!

“I posted a picture on purpose […] to prove the point! I knew exactly what would happen!”

The businesswoman is now calling on online platforms, LinkedIn in particular as a professional space, to put systems in place to prevent inappropriate sexualisation and harassment.

Maddy said: “It’s massively common, it happens all the time. It’s horrible, anybody being sexualised like that.

“There should be triggers in inbox messages where if somebody tries to message you something inappropriate it won’t send.

“It has to stop. LinkedIn doesn’t really do anything about it – this is the first time it’s ever happened to me but I know I’m not the first person it’s happened to.

“I think when someone is reported they should be blocked and removed from the platform.

“I don’t want to be afraid of posting something good and looking nice if it’s going to get me unwanted attention.”

A spokesperson for LinkedIn said: “Maddy, thank you for speaking up about this, and we are so sorry you experienced this on our platform.

“As a professional network, our members rightly expect their experience on LinkedIn to be professional in nature.

“Harassment, unwanted romantic advances, or inappropriate messages are unacceptable in any context and are a violation of the LinkedIn Professional Community Policies.

“We work hard to ensure our members feel safe on our platform. It is your right, and it’s our job to keep you safe.

“We’ve sent you an InMail to get some more information about your experience and to take a closer look.”



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