While TikTok encourages users to show off to employers with its experimental video resume tool, LinkedIn can now mask indications of color or race in a bid to minimize bias in talent acquisition.

The business-focused social network introduced a new feature, “hide names and photos,” which conceals the most basic of identity information – a candidate’s name and picture.

The feature allows administrators to turn off pictures and names during the sourcing process. When they do, an avatar replaces the candidate’s photo and randomly generated letters take the place of their name. That way, recruiters can evaluate candidates by their qualifications and skills only, LinkedIn said.

“We know that qualified candidates may be overlooked due to unconscious bias as recruiters can unintentionally use names and photos to evaluate candidates’ qualifications for a role,” said Vice President of Product Hari Srinivasan. In a blog post, Srinivasan cited a study by economists at the University of California, Berkeley, and the University of Chicago: It found applications from candidates with “Black names” got fewer callbacks than similar applications with “white names.”

Bias Behind the Curtain

Bias seems to be a particular problem on social networks, whether they’re business- or consumer-focused. An internal study by Facebook found that most users who joined extremist groups were led to them by the company’s own algorithms, for example.

Earlier this year, a user discovered that TikTok prevented him from including the word “Black” in his profile. The site flagged his attempts as inappropriate content.” He could, however, enter “supporting white supremacy.” And a Swedish graduate student discovered recently that Twitter’s algorithms prefer “younger, slimmer and lighter faces” over bigger, older and darker features.

Just a few weeks ago, LinkedIn said it’s been revamping its “people you may know” feature to make it more equitable

Mark Feffer

Mark Feffer is executive editor of RecruitingDaily and the HCM Technology Report. He’s written for TechTarget, HR Magazine, SHRM, Dice Insights, TLNT.com and TalentCulture, as well as Dow Jones, Bloomberg and Staffing Industry Analysts. He likes schnauzers, sailing and Kentucky-distilled beverages.


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