How to Manage Your LinkedIn Privacy Settings & Secure Your Account

Computer on a table with a Linkedin profile open and Linkedin logo with a padlock next to it
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Key LinkedIn Privacy Features You Should Know - A Brief Guide

LinkedIn is a great social media app for networking, sharing your professional accomplishments, and searching for a new job. But at the end of the day, you’re sharing a lot of personal data with a social media platform – one owned by Microsoft, no less.

Keeping your information secure and private shouldn’t be something you ignore. Here are the three key setting areas you should know and review.

  • Advertising data – how LinkedIn uses your personal information for ad purposes
  • Data privacy – how LinkedIn uses other data sources related to your account for ad purposes
  • Privacy-related account preferences – other key LinkedIn settings that impact how your data is shared

Read our full article for step-by-step instructions on how to modify these settings and keep your LinkedIn account private and secure.

LinkedIn has been around since 2003 and has always been a place for networking and showcasing your professional milestones and accomplishments. It’s a social media platform, but one traditionally used for business-focused purposes.

Times are changing, though. While once it was the pinstriped suit of social media (stuffy, conservative, dry), today LinkedIn is looking more like casual Friday, replete with humor, memes, and occasionally eyebrow-raising content.

Like it or not, LinkedIn is evolving to fully embrace the “social” in social media. And as it does, users are paying more attention to how the platform treats their privacy. Which presents a bit of a conundrum.

Locking down your account makes it hard for potential recruiters and employers to find you. Yet, leaving your LinkedIn account totally public exposes your personal data – and you – to possible data sharing and even unwanted attention.

Read on for our tips to manage the most important privacy settings on your LinkedIn account, so you can balance the best of both worlds.

LinkedIn Privacy Settings You Should Change Right Now

One of the biggest concerns social media users have today is how their personal data is used and shared. Acquisitions like the Facebook purchase of WhatsApp and subsequent data sharing uproar have only served to amplify user concerns.

When Microsoft bought LinkedIn back in 2016, LinkedIn users wondered how the tech giant would treat its new acquisition. So far, there have not been any flagrant examples of questionable data sharing, and the LinkedIn user experience remains generally the same as it was before Microsoft entered the picture.

But you never know what the future holds. When you want to protect your LinkedIn user information, there are three key privacy areas you should review and modify, as required. They include:

  1. Advertising data
  2. Data privacy
  3. Privacy-related account preferences

We’ve included key settings below, with explanations, and step-by-step instructions to optimize your privacy settings.

Change your LinkedIn advertising data settings

Targeted advertising is the bane of social media and internet usage in general. While you can’t eliminate ads on LinkedIn, you can change what kind of ads are delivered to you.

You’ll still be bombarded with ads, but at least they won’t be based on your personal data.

Tweak your ad preferences

The first change to make is how your basic profile data is used to deliver ads.

  1. Click on the Me icon at the top of your LinkedIn homepage.
  2. Screenshot of the LinkedIn website with the "Me" profile part highlighted
  3. Select Settings (mobile) or Settings & Privacy (desktop).
  4. Screenshot of a dropdown menu of LinkedIn account icon, with some redacted information and Settings and Privacy option highlighted
  5. Choose Advertising Data, then Advertising preferences.
  6. Screenshot of a LinkedIn account Settings and Privacy menu with Advertising data and Advertising preferences options highlighted
  7. Turn off the following settings:
    • Turn off Profile data for personalizing ads – this prevents LinkedIn from using your profile photo and profile information for ad personalization.
    • Screenshot of a LinkedIn profile, Advertising preferences settings window
    • Turn off Interest categories – stops LinkedIn from using your profile interests and other app activity (including Bing searches) for ad targeting.
    • Screenshot of a LinkedIn profile, Advertising preferences, Interest categories window screenshot

Change how data is collected

Next, you want to minimize how much of your data is collected and used by LinkedIn for ad delivery purposes.

Here’s how to do that.

  1. Click on the Me icon at the top of your homepage on LinkedIn.
  2. Screenshot of the LinkedIn website with the "Me" profile part highlighted
  3. Select Settings (mobile) or Settings & Privacy (desktop).
  4. Screenshot of a dropdown menu of LinkedIn account icon, with some redacted information and Settings and Privacy option highlighted
  5. Choose Advertising Data, then Data collected on LinkedIn.
  6. Screenshot of a LinkedIn account Settings and Privacy menu with Advertising data option highlighted
  7. In the Data collection on LinkedIn section, turn off the following settings:
  • Connections – prevent LinkedIn from using your 1st-degree connection information for ad personalization.
  • Location – prevent the city and postcode in your LinkedIn profile from being used for ad purposes.
  • Demographics – eliminates LinkedIn from using your age or gender for ad targeting.
  • Companies you follow – this prevents the information about companies you follow on LinkedIn from being used to target ads, including job ads.
  • Groups – stops LinkedIn from using information about the groups you belong to target ads to you.
  • Education – choose to turn off different options, including schools you attended, your fields of study, degrees, skills, and most recent graduation year.
  • Job Information – choose to allow or prohibit ad targeting based on your current job, past jobs, or both.
  • Employer – eliminate LinkedIn from using your current company, past companies, or both when personalizing ads.

You may wish to pick and choose among the above options, depending on your LinkedIn goals. For example, if you are actively job-hunting you may want to receive targeted ads from the companies you follow.

Modify third-party data

This is one of the most annoying aspects of data collection on social media platforms – using your online activity elsewhere to target ads. LinkedIn is no exception to this sneaky activity. Going through these specific privacy and security settings shows the true invasiveness of their data collection policies.

Like other social media apps, LinkedIn doesn’t stop with targeted ads only within the app itself. It uses your data to send targeted ads elsewhere, too. Here’s how to minimize it.

  1. Click on the Me icon at the top of your LinkedIn homepage.
  2. Screenshot of the LinkedIn website with the "Me" profile part highlighted
  3. Select Settings (mobile) or Settings & Privacy (desktop).
  4. Screenshot of a dropdown menu of LinkedIn account icon, with some redacted information and Settings and Privacy option highlighted
  5. Choose Advertising Data, then Third-party data.
  6. Screenshot of a LinkedIn account Settings and Privacy menu with Advertising data, Third-party data options highlighted
  7. Turn off the following settings:
  • Audience insights for websites you visit – stop LinkedIn from using data based on the websites you visit on any device
  • Ads outside of LinkedIn – prevent LinkedIn from showing you personalized ads outside of LinkedIn, whether you’re logged in to LinkedIn or not.
  • Interactions with businesses – prohibit LinkedIn from using the information you’ve provided to third-party businesses to target ads to you.
  • Ad-related actions – keep your ad-related actions from being sent to, and used by, advertisers.

Update your LinkedIn Data Privacy settings

When you dig into this section of your LinkedIn privacy settings, you may be surprised at just how much information LinkedIn collects about you.

While there are many, many options available under Data Collection Settings, the following items are the most important privacy-related ones you should review.

Download your LinkedIn data

It never hurts to review a summary of all the information LinkedIn has about you. You can find all the information associated with your LinkedIn profile any time by downloading a copy of your data.

Note that you can only do this from a desktop version of LinkedIn, not the mobile app. Here’s how.

  1. Click on the Me icon in the upper right corner of your homepage on LinkedIn.
  2. Screenshot of the LinkedIn website with the "Me" profile part highlighted
  3. Select Settings & Privacy.
  4. Screenshot of a dropdown menu of LinkedIn account icon, with some redacted information and Settings and Privacy option highlighted
  5. Choose Data Privacy, then How LinkedIn uses your data.
  6. Screenshot of a LinkedIn account Settings and Privacy menu with Data privacy highlighted
  7. Select Get a copy of your data, choose what you want your download to include, then click Request archive.
  8. Screenshot of a LinkedIn profile, Get a copy of your data settings window with Request archive button highlighted

See and manage your LinkedIn data and activities

This is where you will find the information you provided to LinkedIn, as well as any third-party apps you granted permissions to use your LinkedIn data. Be sure to check it periodically, and remove any apps you no longer need.

Open LinkedIn on your computer, Android, or iOS device and do the following.

  1. Click on the Me icon at the top of your LinkedIn homepage.
  2. Screenshot of the LinkedIn website with the "Me" profile part highlighted
  3. Select Settings (mobile) or Settings & Privacy (desktop).
  4. Screenshot of a dropdown menu of LinkedIn account icon, with some redacted information and Settings and Privacy option highlighted
  5. Choose Data Privacy, then How LinkedIn uses your data.
  6. Screenshot of a LinkedIn account Settings and Privacy menu with Data privacy highlighted
  7. Select Manage your data and activity. You will see a list of activities in reverse chronological order.
  8. Screenshot of a LinkedIn profile, Manage your data and activity settings window
  9. Select any activity to see details about it and an option to manage the activity. Depending on what type of activity it is, LinkedIn will direct you to specific settings to manage the activity.

Opt out of third-party research

Sharing your data with third parties isn’t just limited to advertisers. LinkedIn also gives access to researchers so they can “research social, economic, and workplace trends.” That’s a relatively broad and ambiguous description.

The good news is that you can turn this setting off and remove your identifying information. The not-so-good news is that LinkedIn may still share an anonymized version of your data.

From your computer, tablet, or smartphone, open LinkedIn and follow these steps.

  1. Click on the Me icon at the top of your homepage on LinkedIn.
  2. Screenshot of the LinkedIn website with the "Me" profile part highlighted
  3. Select Settings (mobile) or Settings & Privacy (desktop).
  4. Screenshot of a dropdown menu of LinkedIn account icon, with some redacted information and Settings and Privacy option highlighted
  5. Choose Data Privacy, then How LinkedIn uses your data.
  6. Screenshot of a LinkedIn account Settings and Privacy menu with Data privacy highlighted
  7. Select Social, economic, and workplace research, then toggle to NO.
  8. Screenshot of a LinkedIn profile, Social, economic and workplace research settings window

Manage permitted services

Sometimes, mainly if you use LinkedIn to job search, you’ll grant third parties direct access to your LinkedIn profile and data. It is a good privacy habit to review this information and delete unnecessary connections regularly.

Open LinkedIn on your phone, tablet, or computer, and then:

  1. Click on the Me icon at the top of your LinkedIn homepage.
  2. Screenshot of the LinkedIn website with the "Me" profile part highlighted
  3. Select Settings (mobile) or Settings & Privacy (desktop).
  4. Screenshot of a dropdown menu of LinkedIn account icon, with some redacted information and Settings and Privacy option highlighted
  5. Choose Data Privacy, then Other applications.
  6. Screenshot of a LinkedIn account Settings and Privacy menu with Data Privacy option highlighted
  7. Select Permitted services.
  8. Screenshot of a LinkedIn profile, Permitted services settings window with Remove services option highlighted
  9. Delete anything you no longer want by clicking X (mobile) or Remove (desktop) next to the activity name.

Don’t share information with Microsoft – part 1

There are several ways LinkedIn can share your information with Microsoft. One way is the seemingly convenient option to share your résumé information with Microsoft Word. While, on its face, this seems innocuous enough, it opens up your personal data to being seen and used by Microsoft in ways that may go beyond simply helping you pre-fill a résumé template in Word.

Open LinkedIn on your device and turn off this feature by following these steps.

  1. Click on the Me icon at the top of your homepage on LinkedIn.
  2. Screenshot of the LinkedIn website with the "Me" profile part highlighted
  3. Select Settings (mobile) or Settings & Privacy (desktop).
  4. Screenshot of a dropdown menu of LinkedIn account icon, with some redacted information and Settings and Privacy option highlighted
  5. Choose Data Privacy, then Other applications.
  6. Screenshot of a LinkedIn account Settings and Privacy menu with Data Privacy option highlighted
  7. Select Microsoft Word, then toggle to NO.
  8. Screenshot of a LinkedIn account Microsoft Word settings

Don’t share information with Microsoft – part 2

As LinkedIn’s parent company, Microsoft makes it easy to connect your LinkedIn account with your Microsoft account. Microsoft positions this feature as a way to conveniently “use data from your Microsoft account to improve your experience on LinkedIn.” Of course, when you connect the two accounts, Microsoft also gains access to all your LinkedIn data, including your profile, interests, subscriptions, and connections.

If this alarms you, good. Once you willingly provide Microsoft with your LinkedIn data, you lose control over how it is used.

If you’re not sure whether you previously connected the two accounts or you did and now want to undo that action, here’s what to do. Open LinkedIn on any device, and then:

  1. Click on the Me icon at the top of your LinkedIn homepage.
  2. Screenshot of the LinkedIn website with the "Me" profile part highlighted
  3. Select Settings (mobile) or Settings & Privacy (desktop).
  4. Screenshot of a dropdown menu of LinkedIn account icon, with some redacted information and Settings and Privacy option highlighted
  5. Choose Account Preferences, then Partners & Services.
  6. Screenshot of a LinkedIn account Settings and Privacy menu with Account preferences option highlighted
  7. Select Microsoft.
  8. Screenshot of a LinkedIn profile, Partners and services settings window, Microsoft option highlighted
  9. Click the X (mobile) or Remove (desktop) next to any Microsoft account you want to disconnect. If you’ve never connected your Microsoft account, you will see the following message.
  10. Screenshot of a LinkedIn profile, View Microsoft accounts window, No access granted highlighted

Stop syncing your contact list

Did you ever wonder how LinkedIn comes up with suggestions for connections you may know? One way is by periodically scanning your phone and email contacts. This is possible only if you previously granted permission for LinkedIn to access your contact lists. And you might have done that without thinking too much about it, as it is one of the prompts you get when you first set up your LinkedIn account.

If you can’t recall or you want to make sure you have this feature turned off, follow these steps from LinkedIn on your device.

  1. Click on the Me icon at the top of your LinkedIn homepage.
  2. Screenshot of the LinkedIn website with the "Me" profile part highlighted
  3. Select Settings (mobile) or Settings & Privacy (desktop).
  4. Screenshot of a dropdown menu of LinkedIn account icon, with some redacted information and Settings and Privacy option highlighted
  5. Choose Account Preferences, then Syncing options.
  6. Select Sync Contacts.
  7. Screenshot of a LinkedIn profile, Syncing options window, with Sync contacts option highlighted
  8. Toggle Sync Contacts to OFF (mobile) or Remove All (desktop). You may be prompted to confirm your decision. If you are, click Continue to finalize the process.
  9. Screenshot of a LinkedIn profile, Contacts settings window, Remove all option highlighted

When you do this, LinkedIn will delete any contact data it has gathered from all your mobile and desktop devices.

Hide your sensitive information and activity on LinkedIn

Having a profile on LinkedIn is a valuable resource for networking, especially when you’re looking for a new job. But you don’t always want everyone to see everything in your profile. You may also not want people to know when you’re online or be able to tag you in their posts. LinkedIn gives you options for fine-tuning the information people can see, and how they can interact with you.

To do this, open LinkedIn and follow these steps.

  1. Click on the Me icon at the top of your homepage on LinkedIn.
  2. Screenshot of the LinkedIn website with the "Me" profile part highlighted
  3. Select Settings (mobile) or Settings & Privacy (desktop).
  4. Screenshot of a dropdown menu of LinkedIn account icon, with some redacted information and Settings and Privacy option highlighted
  5. Choose Visibility.
  6. Screenshot of a LinkedIn account Settings and Privacy menu with Visibility option highlighted
  7. You can modify two groups of settings:
    • Visibility of your profile & network – allows you to decide who can see your profile and your contact information.
    • Visibility of your LinkedIn activity – decide what you want your connections to see about you in their news feeds, if they can see when you’re online, tag you, and follow you.

There are numerous options in this section, so take a few minutes to go through each and modify the settings to meet your needs.

Control unsolicited emails

Tired of trying to stay on top of your LinkedIn InMail messages, especially ones from people you’re not connected with? There are different types of unsolicited messages you can receive.

  • Sponsored messages – One of the more annoying aspects of using LinkedIn is the sponsored direct messages you receive via InMail. Unfortunately, LinkedIn allows advertisers to send you promotional content – unless you opt out of this feature.
  • InMail messages from non-connections – Non-connections can reach out to you via InMail. However, you can opt out of this feature.
  • Open Profile messages – specifically for LinkedIn premium members, this allows other premium members to see your profile and send you messages (whether connected or not) when you have the feature turned on.

To stop receiving unsolicited InMail messages, open LinkedIn and do the following:

  1. Click on the Me icon at the top of your LinkedIn homepage.
  2. Screenshot of the LinkedIn website with the "Me" profile part highlighted
  3. Select Settings (mobile) or Settings & Privacy (desktop).
  4. Screenshot of a dropdown menu of LinkedIn account icon, with some redacted information and Settings and Privacy option highlighted
  5. Choose Communications, then Who can reach you.
  6. Screenshot of a LinkedIn account Settings and Privacy menu with Communications option highlighted
  7. Select Messages and toggle OFF the desired options.
  8. Screenshot of a LinkedIn Messages settings window

Keep yourself anonymous on LinkedIn

One surprising feature of LinkedIn (at least compared to other social media apps) is the disclosure of your identity whenever you view someone else’s profile. You can turn this feature off and make yourself anonymous, and sometimes it is helpful to do so. However, anonymity on LinkedIn comes at a price. Once you make yourself anonymous, you can’t see any information about who is looking at your profile, either. Your viewing history is also deleted.

If you want to use LinkedIn anonymously, here’s how to do that.

  1. Click on the Me icon at the top of your LinkedIn homepage.
  2. Screenshot of the LinkedIn website with the "Me" profile part highlighted
  3. Select Settings (mobile) or Settings & Privacy (desktop).
  4. Screenshot of a dropdown menu of LinkedIn account icon, with some redacted information and Settings and Privacy option highlighted
  5. Choose Visibility, then Visibility of your profile & network.
  6. Screenshot of a LinkedIn account Settings and Privacy menu with Visibility option highlighted
  7. Select Profile viewing options.
  8. Screenshot of a LinkedIn profile, Visibility of your profile and network settings window with Profile viewing options highlighted
  9. Select what others will see about you when you view their profile. Your choices are your name and headline, private profile characteristics, or private mode.
  10. Screenshot of a LinkedIn profile, Profile viewing options window with some redacted information

How to Block Someone on LinkedIn

Even with all your security and privacy settings locked down, you still might fall victim to unwanted contact from another LinkedIn user. If someone on the platform is annoying or harassing you, get them out of your LinkedIn life forever by blocking them.

Here’s how.

  1. Go to the LinkedIn profile of the person you want to block, then select More (desktop) or the three dots (mobile) in the user’s profile photo/description box.
  2. Screenshot of a LinkedIn profile page with redacted info and option More highlighted
  3. Choose Report/Block.
  4. Screenshot of a LinkedIn profile, More settings menu with Report Block option highlighted
  5. Select Block [user name].
  6. Screenshot of a LinkedIn profile Report menu with Block option highlighted
  7. On the confirmation screen, tap Block.
  8. Screenshot of a LinkedIn profile Report confirmation window

Note that if you try to block someone who is a member of a group you own/manage, you won’t have the block option available. You’ll have to delete the person from the group first or assign group ownership to someone else.

Other Ways to Improve Your LinkedIn Security

Besides changing your privacy and security settings in LinkedIn, there are other ways to protect your LinkedIn account.

Use a strong password

One of the easiest ways to protect any online account is to use a secure password that is unique and difficult to figure out. The days of using your mother’s maiden name or child’s birthday as a login credential are long gone. And writing down those passwords on sticky notes is also taboo.

You can easily create and manage complex passwords for all your online accounts with a password manager. Whether you use something like 1Password, one of the best, or rely on the built-in password manager in your favorite web browser, be sure to incorporate a strong password on LinkedIn.

Turn on multi-factor authentication

Even with a really strong password, you can still further secure your LinkedIn account by using two-factor authentication (2FA). This requires an additional login credential beyond a username and password. This extra credential is a one-time login code sent by SMS or via an authenticator app, like Google Authenticator.

To enable two-factor authentication on your LinkedIn account, follow these steps.

  1. Click the Me icon at the top of your homepage on LinkedIn, then Settings (mobile) or Settings & Privacy (desktop).
  2. Screenshot of the LinkedIn website with the "Me" profile part highlighted
  3. Choose Sign in & Security, then Account access.
  4. Screenshot of a Settings and Privacy menu on LinkedIn account
  5. Select Two-step verification.
  6. LinkedIn Account access settings menu with Two-step verification option highlighted
  7. Select Turn on (desktop) or Set up (mobile) and follow the prompts to complete the process.
  8. Screenshot of a LinkedIn account Two-step verification window, turn on option highlighted

Final Thoughts

Think of your security on LinkedIn as a multi-tiered process. Keep your overall account safe from unwanted access by using a strong password and two-factor authentication. Eliminate unwanted LinkedIn contact with the helpful blocking feature.

Then turn your attention to your personal LinkedIn settings, and tweak them to share or hide as much – or little – information as you like. If you are still not satisfied, you can also delete or deactivate your LinkedIn account.

Going through these steps might seem tedious, but it will best ensure that you can confidently use LinkedIn without significant privacy concerns.

Frequently Asked Questions About LinkedIn Privacy Settings

Didn’t find what you were looking for in the article? Check out our frequently asked questions about LinkedIn privacy settings. If you still need more information, drop us a line, and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible.

If you want to keep your LinkedIn profile from appearing in search engine results or other off-LinkedIn activity, do the following from a computer:

  1. Go to your LinkedIn homepage and click on your profile picture in the upper-left of the screen.
  2. Click Edit Profile and URL in the top right corner.
  3. Toggle Your Public Profile’s Visibility to OFF.

There are other LinkedIn privacy settings you might want to review too.

It depends what your goals are for using LinkedIn, and how concerned you are about data sharing. There are a lot of privacy settings to go through on LinkedIn, but the three most important are:

  • Advertising data – how LinkedIn uses your personal information for ad purposes
  • Data privacy – how LinkedIn uses other data sources related to your account for ad purposes
  • Privacy-related account preferences – other key LinkedIn settings that impact how your data is shared

Read our full article for instructions on accessing and modifying the settings within each of these three key categories.

  1. When you turn on private mode for your LinkedIn account, you prevent other LinkedIn users from seeing your information when you browse their profile. However, the rest of your privacy settings are not affected by choosing private mode.

Also, when you use private mode, you are barred from seeing who is visiting your profile, and your previous viewing history is automatically deleted. You can avoid this with a Premium LinkedIn membership.

LinkedIn lets you fine-tune what activity is visible to others on the platform. To hide your LinkedIn activity:

  1. Go to your LinkedIn homepage and click on your profile picture in the upper-left of the screen.
  2. Select Settings (mobile) or Settings & Privacy (desktop).
  3. Choose Visibility.
  4. Under Visibility of your LinkedIn activity, scroll through each option and tweak your settings as desired.
    • Manage active status – choose whether others can see when you’re online
    • Share profile updates with your network – choose whether to share updates
    • Notify connections when you’re in the news – choose to let contacts know when you’ve been metioned in an article or blog post
    • Mentions or Tags – decide whether other users can mention or tag you
    • Followers – choose who can follow you and if they can see your public updates
Tech journalist
Liz is a professional writer with a special interest in online privacy and cybersecurity. As a US expat who travels and works in diverse locations around the world, keeping up with the latest internet safety best practices remains her priority.