After a series of high-profile data breaches in the social media space (such as the Facebook data breach), LinkedIn privacy has come under scrutiny alongside other leading platforms such as Facebook and Instagram.
There have been two major security breaches at LinkedIn in the past: in 2012 and 2016, with the latter event compromising as many as 117 million user accounts.
User data, including passwords, were sold on the black market by Russian hackers, and the breaches led to an onslaught of criticism against the social network.
The precarious cybersecurity landscape of today means that you have to be proactive in managing your LinkedIn privacy settings and avoiding serious repercussions of any LinkedIn security breach in the future.
With highly motivated hackers using increasingly sophisticated techniques in a bid to carry out LinkedIn identity theft attempts, users must be vigilant and informed. Remember, if there is a LinkedIn security breach at the platform level, you will only find out after the event!
- What sort of user data LinkedIn collects
- How it uses that data
- Under what circumstances that data is shared
Even more important, however, are the privacy settings, which you should definitely have a handle on.
Here you can:
- Manage your personal settings, including the degree to which other users can see your activity
- Adjust your ad settings
- Choose communication preferences
- Ensure your data is used and shared in a manner you agree with
- Set your job seeker preferences, including the option to allow recruiters to know you’re searching for openings
- Block or hide other users using lists.
You can also see your own account details at the top of the page, including:
- Your headline
- Your connections
- Any premium accounts
You should be completely comfortable with what information about yourself you share. Consider what other digital sources you link to, such as:
- A personal blog
- Other social media accounts
You'll see the LinkedIn privacy settings on the Settings & Privacy page. This page is categorized into four main tabs that allow you to easily find the sections that you want to check and update.
Accessing the LinkedIn privacy page
Go to the top of your homepage and you'll see Settings & Privacy detailed in the dropdown menu. Alternatively, you can visit the page directly by going to https://www.linkedin.com/psettings/.
Actions you can carry out via the LinkedIn Security & Privacy page.
The Account tab
Here you can:
- Add or delete email addresses
- Change your password
- Select a different language
The Privacy tab
- Adjust what information can be viewed about you - taking care to minimize it
- Adjust how you are comfortable with your information being used by LinkedIn
- Download your data
The Ads tab
- Here you can manage the advertising that LinkedIn shows you by choosing the right settings for your needs.
The Communication tab
- Here you can adjust contact preferences - including frequency - for both LinkedIn and other third parties.
5 best practices for privacy on LinkedIn
View your public profile
You want your public profile to appear in public search engine searches - that’s what it’s designed for. The implication is that people can see it without logging into LinkedIn as a user. For this reason, it’s wise to manage what information appears in your public profile. You can see it on your public profile settings tab.
The default setting means that visitors will have full access to your profile as a whole, including your image, work role, education, summary, website, member groups and other sources of information - including any sites that you have linked to.
This view is useful if you want to provide full transparency. Otherwise, uncheck any features that you don't want on public display.
Visibility on member feeds
If you don’t adjust your member feeds, your personal feed will appear on them. This includes various notifications - posting a recommendation, joining a new group, contributing a blog, or updating your work. To manage what appears there, go to Profile Settings and choose Member feed visibility to adjust the four different settings available to select from.
Here you can choose whether to make your actions on the platform visible to all, only to those within your own network, just to direct connections - or no one at all. The latter two settings are best for privacy and to avoid any LinkedIn security breaches.
Connecting your LinkedIn to Twitter can be useful from a time saving perspective. You can stream Twitter tweets to your profile on LinkedIn, or feed your LinkedIn status to your Twitter feed. If you choose to do this, be careful - Twitter isn’t always strictly work, so you may inadvertently publish something not fit for your LinkedIn profile.
Check your settings in the Profile Settings section and then go to Twitter Settings to add/remove your Twitter accounts and choose the display and share levels that you feel comfortable with. This includes the option to only show your Tweets that have the #in hashtag on LinkedIn.
To see how many times people have looked at your profile recently, check the Who’s viewed my profile? box on the right. It will also inform you how many times it has appeared in search engine results.
Adjust this in the privacy settings section, under Profile Views. You can choose to have all information shown in these searches, including your image and title, or simply anonymously. Finally, you can make your profile invisible.
LinkedIn has a platform which allows APIs to operate, and for developers to integrate the platform to third-party websites and business applications. Member users have tried these apps and given external sites access to their profile as a result.
Look at the Privacy Settings section and find the Authorized Applications tab to add or delete these as necessary. Remember, the fewer routes to your account that you provide, the safer it will be.
LinkedIn stores a lot of sensitive user data and in today’s landscape of constant breaches and identity theft, it’s no longer viable to ignore what personal information you make available online. Fortunately, the social network does provide clear information about managing your security and privacy, so users can take matters into their own hands - at least to some extent.
Following these tips, you can make sure the privacy settings work to your advantage. Remember, in the digital world, not everyone is operating with transparent and positive intentions - and hackers are just as motivated as honest business people when it comes to achieving their goals!