If someone takes control of your LinkedIn account, they can quickly damage your reputation by posting obscenities or lies. And if you use your LinkedIn account to log into other websites, then someone who gains access to your LinkedIn account gains the keys to those other accounts.
For these reasons, it’s critical that you take the time to set your security and privacy settings on LinkedIn. Let’s walk through them.
This guide shows the full, desktop version of the LinkedIn website. The steps will be similar for the mobile website and LinkedIn apps. The links throughout the guide will take you directly to the pages referenced.
For some settings, I don’t have a recommendation related to security or privacy, so I don’t describe them in this guide. For those, feel free to keep the default, or choose based on your preferences.
In LinkedIn, click your profile photo in the top right corner of the screen, then click Settings & Privacy. You’ll see a navigation menu across the top of the screen with various categories of settings. We’ll go through them in order.
In the navigation menu across the top of the screen, click Account.
Change password: Set a long, strong password (20+ characters, with a mix of uppercase, lowercase, numbers, and special characters). I recommend using a password manager, such as LastPass, to create and store your password.
Where you’re signed in: Review the active sessions. If you see any sessions you no longer need, such as a friend’s computer you used to log into LinkedIn, click Sign out.
Two-step verification: Click Turn on. Select the phone number where you want to receive the SMS/text message with your code. Click Send code to activate. Follow the instructions. I wish LinkedIn offered more secure two-factor authentication options. Learn more in How & Why to Use Two-Factor Authentication.
In the Partners and services section, review the accounts and services connected to your LinkedIn account. If there are any that don’t truly need access to your LinkedIn account, click Remove.
In the navigation menu across the top of the screen, click Privacy.
How others see your profile and network information
Edit your public profile: Click this to view your public profile. This is what your profile looks like outside of LinkedIn, to search engines and others. Use the Edit Visibility box on the right to control what’s publicly visible. If you don’t want your profile to be publicly visible, toggle Your profile’s public visibility off. If you want your profile to be publicly visible, you can choose which items are publicly visible. Learn more about profile visibility.
Go back to the Privacy settings.
Who can see your email address: I recommend 1st degree connections, to limit email address harvesting and spam. I recommend setting Allow your connections to download your email in their data export? to No for the same reason.
Who can see your last name: Choose whether you want your full last name to appear to people who aren’t connections.
Representing your organization and interests: LinkedIn describes this setting as “Show my name and/or picture with content about my employers, such as in job posting details and on company pages and insights, and with content related to my publicly expressed interests (e.g. when I like a service or follow a company, or comment or share its posts, we may include my name and photo with their sponsored content when shown to my connections)?”
Profile visibility off LinkedIn: This allows LinkedIn to share your profile details with third-party services such as “Outlook and Yahoo Mail, Calendar or Contacts, Apple and Samsung native mail, contacts and calendar phone apps, Cortana, Evernote, social media aggregators.”
How others see your LinkedIn activity
Profile viewing options: When you view someone’s LinkedIn profile, they’re able to see that you did that. Here you can choose how much detail they can see about you.
Manage active status: Choose who can see when you’re on LinkedIn. I set this to No one because people don’t need to know when I’m on LinkedIn.
Sharing profile edits: Choose whether your network is notified about profile changes. Be careful; I’ve known several people who inadvertently informed their network about details they didn’t want widely known.
Mentions or tags by others: Choose whether other members can mention or tag you in content such as mentions in posts and comments, tags in photos, etc.
How LinkedIn uses your data
Manage your data and activity: Review the data you’ve provided to LinkedIn, and make changes if you’d like.
Manage who can discover your profile from your email address: Choose who can discover your profile if they are not connected to you but have your email address.
Manage who can discover your profile from your phone number: Choose who can discover your profile if they have your phone number.
Salary data on LinkedIn: If you’ve submitted salary data to LinkedIn, you can see and delete it.
Personal demographic information: Choose what details you provide about your gender, race, disability, and veteran status. According to LinkedIn, “Your demographic data will not be shown on your profile. It will be used to provide aggregated workforce and salary insights to you and others, to feature news, ads and other content personalized for you, and to provide tools and insights to help employers reach a diverse talent pool.” I recommend not adding this data, and removing it if you’ve set it. Learn more about how LinkedIn uses your demographic data.
Social, economic and workplace research: According to LinkedIn, “We enable trusted third party partners to use data about you (e.g. data from your LinkedIn profile) for social, economic and workplace research, under controls designed to protect your privacy.” I recommend setting this to No.
Job seeking preferences
Let recruiters know you’re open to opportunities: Toggling this to on is risky, because it could let your current employer or others know that you’re looking for a new job. LinkedIn says, “In order to protect your privacy, we take steps to keep Recruiter users who work at your company, as well as related companies, from seeing the career interests that you share.” But there’s no guarantee that the wrong person won’t find out.
In the navigation menu across the top of the screen, click Ads.
I recommend setting every setting on this page to No to limit the data LinkedIn collects and stores about you. Note that even by setting these to No, you’ll still see the same number of ads, but they’ll be less relevant (less targeted to your personal data). Also note that these settings apply not only to ads but also to job postings. If you’re job-hunting, you may want to see more relevant job posts.
In the navigation menu across the top of the screen, click Communications.
Read receipts and typing indicators: I set this to Off. I’m not a fan of read receipts in any messaging platform, because I don’t like people knowing when I’ve read their message. Not only does it reveal behavioral patterns about when you check messages, it also causes people to judge you based on how quickly you reply.
In LinkedIn, click your profile photo in the top right corner of the screen, then click View profile. Each section of your profile has a pencil icon which you can click to edit that section.
Using LinkedIn involves tradeoffs. You wouldn’t use LinkedIn if you didn’t want to connect with people, often strangers. Yet you also don’t want to make all your personal info public. You’ll need to find the right balance of protecting your privacy based on how you use LinkedIn. I recommend sharing only the details that you need to share for professional purposes.
I highly recommend excluding your birthday from your profile. When you’re editing your profile, click See contact info below your background photo, then click the pencil icon to edit. Scroll down to Birthday. I highly recommend leaving these fields empty. Learn more about the danger of sharing your birthday online.
By default, your profile shows the LinkedIn groups that you’re a member of. You may be a member of groups that you’d rather not be visible to everyone who sees your profile. To hide a group:
- Open the group.
- Click the ellipsis (3 dots) next to the group’s name.
- Click Update your settings.
- Toggle Display group on profile to No.
When you edit certain parts of your profile, you’ll see a toggle for Share with network. Be careful about toggling this to On. I’ve known several people who inadvertently informed their network about details they didn’t want widely known.
Using LinkedIn Safely
If you use someone else’s device (computer, phone, tablet, etc.) to log into your LinkedIn account, be sure to log out when you’re finished! Otherwise, the other person can use LinkedIn as you after you leave.
Some websites let you log in with your LinkedIn account. Don’t use this option! If someone hacks your LinkedIn account, they gain access to all the accounts you’ve set up for LinkedIn login. Yes, it’s more work to create separate logins for each site, but remembering the logins doesn’t take any extra effort if you use a password manager (I like LastPass).
Just as you need to be careful about clicking links in email and other messages, you must be careful about clicking links you receive in LinkedIn messages.
Be careful what you post. I’ve seen people post that they’re at a conference far from home. Be wise about what you share with others. Learn more about the dangers of posting about travel.
There are a lot of spam and scam accounts on LinkedIn. Be careful which connections (people) you accept on LinkedIn, because a connection instantly gets access to a lot of your info, including contact info you’ve added to your LinkedIn profile. Also, if a connection’s LinkedIn account is hacked, that hacker can see whatever your connection was able to see! When you receive a connection request, it’s a good idea to review the person’s profile for anything suspicious, and do a web search to check on anything questionable.