What's old is new again for LinkedIn.
The business-oriented social network said Friday that it's testing a feature that lets users create real-world events and invite their online connections. If that sounds familiar, it's because LinkedIn had an events app in the past but shut it down in 2012.
Since then, however, the tech company has watched its more than 562 million users find their own ways to promote events, by sharing them on their feed or in groups. Members are not only organizing local meet ups but posting videos and photos from major conferences. This year, there were over 5,000 posts across the social network about the Grace Hopper conference for women technologists.
LinkedIn hopes its new tool will make it easier for users to network before, during and after an event. The feature lets members see a list of who's attending and where they work. It also gives members one place to post photos, comments and videos about an event and follow along through a hashtag.
"It's a way for them to extend their online community and build those relationships in person, meet new people and learn about topics that they're interested in," said Liz Li, director of product management for network growth at LinkedIn.
About 500 event organizers in San Francisco and New York are part of the pilot, but anyone can join a public event. The events feature is under the "Your communities" section on the left-hand side of your LinkedIn home page. Currently, only pilot participants can create events but the company plans to roll out the tool globally in the coming months.
Like other social networks, LinkedIn also has to be on alert for bad actors who could abuse features. Russian operatives created 129 events on Facebook from 2015 to 2017. LinkedIn said in October that it found 24 fake profiles that it suspects were created by Russian nation-state actors.
Ashu Dubey, product manager for LinkedIn Events, said the company has safeguards in place to filter events that are against the site's rules. Members can also flag posts.
"We'll restrict the distribution and publishing of those types of content," he said.
LinkedIn also plans to add more to the events feature, Dubey said. In the future, companies will be able to create private events and members will be able to easily find events they're interested in attending.
'Hello, humans': Google's Duplex could make Assistant the most lifelike AI yet.
The Honeymoon Is Over: Everything you need to know about why tech is under Washington's microscope.