Laura Berlinsky-Schine

Ensuring that your private information stays, well, private is tricky business when it comes to social media. And that's no accident; social networks exist as platforms to share information about ourselves, and having obvious privacy controls makes it more difficult for the social networks to cash in on your information.

That means you have to be extra careful before sending that Tweet or posting that picture. Assume anyone and everyone browses Twitter and Facebook routinely. Of course, you know that.

But when it comes to LinkedIn, which is primarily used for business and career connections, it's important to be especially careful—your professional future depends on it.

So how, exactly, do you navigate your account settings and privacy controls on LinkedIn?

First, familiarize yourself with LinkedIn's Privacy tab. Click the "me" icon at the top of the LinkedIn homepage. Scroll down to Settings and Privacy. Privacy is the second option on the top bar after Account. From there, you have several options for handling the visibility of your profile and other information.

Privacy is divided into five sections: how others see your profile and network information, how others see your LinkedIn activity, how LinkedIn uses your data, job seeking preferences, and blocking and hiding.

How others see your profile and network information

In this section, you can control who can see information such as your email address, connetions, and last name.

You can also make your profile visible or invisible to search engines, so you won't appear in Google and other search engine results if you don't want to. Under the Privacy tab, click Edit your public profile. From there, you can switch your profile's public visibility to off. You can also control whether certain people and groups, such as your connections, your network, and all LinkedIn members, can see different aspects of your profile, including your photo, experience, work history, and other details.

How others see your LinkedIn Activity

Many people don't like how LinkedIn alerts others when you've been viewing their profile. Fortunately, you do have the option of browsing anonymously. In this section, under Profile viewing options, select private mode. That way, other users will only see that an anonymous LinkedIn member, not that you did specifically. You can also select Private profile characteristics, which will alert the other user that someone at your organization viewed their profile. Before you select this option, understand that doing so will erase your viewer history, and you won't be able to see who has viewed your profile. However, if you have a premium membership, you'll be able to see who viewed your profile within the last 90 days while browsing anonymously.

This tab also enables you to control who can see that you're online at a given time, whether connections are notified when you make profile edits, whether to alert connections when you're in the news, and if other connections may mention you and link to your profile.

How LinkedIn uses your data

You may already know that social media platforms collect data about you. they're using it for different purposes, including improving their own services by looking at demographics, as well as selling it to other companies. Yes, that's right. And for the most part, that's completely legal.

If you don't want LinkedIn to use your data in certain ways, you can control it. For instance, you can manage whether people can find you from your email address or phone number. You can also delete your salary data, if you provided it in the first place. Note that LinkedIn does not make your salary viewable to other users or connections.

If you don't want LinkedIn to make your data available to other companies and services, you can also control that.

Job seeking preferences

When you're looking for a new job, LinkedIn definitely comes in handy. In this section, you can select the option to let recruiters know that you're open to new opportunities. On the other hand, if you don't want your current employer to know that you're looking, it's safer to uncheck this option, because LinkedIn states, "We take steps not to show your current company that you’re open, but can’t guarantee complete privacy."

If you apply to a job initially posted on LinkedIn, you can share your profile automatically when you click apply. You can also store third-party applications and answers on your account as well. You can also elect not to choose any of these options.

Blocking and hiding

Here, you can choose who sees your updates, as well as see a list of anyone you've blocked or unfollowed.