Liars on LinkedIn Likely to Lose

Embellishing a résumé is one thing, but flat out lying? Unfortunately, people do it. But LinkedIn might be using a patent that would curtail fibs on the popular professional networking and job search website.

The Daily Dot reported that on April 21, LinkedIn filed a 2013 patent by Lucas Myslinski for an “Interactive Fact Checking System,” which “automatically monitors, processes, fact checks information, and indicates a status of the information,” according to the patent’s description.

While this might be news for most of us, LinkedIn has been purchasing Myslinski’s patents for more than a year.

According to a June 2014 article on Poynter’s website, Myslinski has been awarded eight U.S. patents related to fact-checking systems. “It’s arguably the largest portfolio of fact-checking patents in the U.S., and perhaps the world,” the article said.

In March 2014, Myslinski transferred his patents to LinkedIn. Poynter contacted both Myslinski and LinkedIn, and both didn’t offer specifics of the company’s plans. Myslinski did say, however, that he sought a patent broker because he didn’t think he could turn the patents into a real product.

The same Poynter article cites the opinion of Michael Carrier, an intellectual property expert and professor at Rutgers School of Law. Carrier thinks the 2014 LinkedIn acquisition has more to do with competition than anything else.

“Companies acquire any patents that they think they can use against competitors,” Carrier said. “LinkedIn must believe that it will be able to use these patents against rivals.”

According to Fortune, the recent patent application made no explicit mention of vetting résumés, although the website’s reputation as a social network of online résumés would make checking résumés an obvious use. The résumés listed on LinkedIn’s site could be compared against public information or in private databases bought or created by the website.

According to The Daily Dot, it’s unlikely for the system to work on its own. “Verifying every little detail on a person’s résumé is tedious and likely difficult to do in a fully automated way. Still, it shows a step in the direction of removing some of the falsehoods that clutter the Web, even if these ones are more personal.”

Wouldn’t it be great if we could fight the fibs that happen so much online? Having a built-in fact-checking system for résumés would save hiring managers time and money. But is this what LinkedIn is planning for? Is the company buying up patents to keep them away from competition, or does LinkedIn plan to put the patents in motion? 

 What do you think?