Chris Reed: LinkedIn censored me over ‘bikini entrepreneur’

Black Marketing founder Chris Reed has found himself embroiled in a censorship row with LinkedIn. He claims the social network censored a presentation he was due to deliver at a LinkedIn-hosted event, which he was dropped from as a speaker, and then removed a blog post he wrote afterwards about the snub.

The head of the Singapore-based agency, which specialises in LinkedIn marketing, claimed he was due to be a keynote speaker at the social network-hosted event Girls in Tech, which took place in Singapore yesterday.

However, over the weekend, the event’s managing director Wang Ting Poh allegedly asked Reed to remove the presentation’s mentions of American tech entrepreneur Candice Galek. She is the founder of online swimwear retailer Bikini Luxe and made headlines for using images of bikini-wearing women to market her business on the platform. 

Poh is alleged to have told Reed she was “sensitive to how the audience may perceive” the Galek references. However, after facing resistance from Reed, LinkedIn then removed his presentation from the event’s schedule – it is claimed. His speech was replaced with one by LinkedIn’s relationship manager Mac Witmer.

Following his removal from the event, Reed wrote a post on LinkedIn entitled ‘Girls in Tech censored and banned me’ – whereby he said: “Candice is a successful tech entrepreneur. What better place to showcase her than Girls in Tech?

“Apparently not. Are Singapore Girls in Tech really so sensitive that they can’t stand me talking about the success of a bikini entrepreneur? I have done this presentation with Candice hundreds of times across the whole of Asia-Pacific and have never been censored and never had a bad reaction to the case study.”

Candice Galek

Following the post’s publication on Monday night, the article was subsequently taken down.

Speaking about the post, Reed added: “It was very weird. It was going viral yesterday and then all of a sudden no more comments, likes or shares and I was getting dozens of people saying they could no longer see it. I myself couldn’t see it or reply to comments. Candice who shared it also said that her post about it disappeared.

“Clearly [it’s] an orchestrated censor by LinkedIn. They clearly can’t stand free speech about their event. I didn’t even criticise them, just Girls in Tech with clear justification.”

A spokeswoman for LinkedIn said that Reed’s removal from the event was due to it being “more appropriate” to have a speaker from within its own staff deliver the personal branding keynote.

She said: “We were pleased to welcome Girls In Tech to our offices in Singapore last night, which turned out to be a really successful event.  As the host, one of our female employee experts also spoke about professional branding on LinkedIn at the event.”

“On the post, it was restricted for review based on LinkedIn’s User Agreement but the restriction has since been lifted.  It is also not LinkedIn’s call to decide on speaker line-ups for third party events.”

A controversial figure on Singapore’s marketing scene, Reed was one of the first major players to join the beleaguered alternative holding company The Marketing Group, which has suffered from a plummeting share price over recent months.

Described on LinkedIn as the only NASDAQ-listed CEO with a mohawk, Reed was the largest shareholder, owning 18.65 per cent of TMG’s 14.4m shares.

Reed recently launched a new company called The Dark Art of Marketing, which aims to create personal branding beyond LinkedIn.


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