In most cases, no, your employer cannot read your LinkedIn messages. LinkedIn’s privacy settings give users control over who can see their conversations. However, there are some exceptions where an employer may be able to view LinkedIn messages sent or received through a company account or device.
LinkedIn’s default privacy settings
By default, LinkedIn messages are private. Only the sender and recipient(s) can view the contents of a message thread. Employers do not have backdoor access to employees’ private messages.
Users must intentionally adjust their settings to allow others to see their conversations. For example, enabling the “Share conversations with connections” feature shares message previews. The full message contents remain hidden unless a connection is added explicitly to the thread.
So under LinkedIn’s default privacy settings, employers cannot read private messages sent or received through an employee’s personal account.
Messages sent through company accounts
If employees use a company-owned LinkedIn account to send messages, the employer may have administrative control of that account. This could allow them to view messages, though they still won’t see conversations from employees’ personal accounts.
It is best practice for employees to keep work and personal social media accounts separate. Use a personal LinkedIn profile for non-work related conversations.
Messages sent on company devices
Employers may monitor messages sent through company-owned devices like work computers and phones. So any LinkedIn messages exchanged on these devices could be visible.
Many companies have IT policies outlining their ability to access data on company devices. Read and understand any relevant policy to avoid surprises.
For privacy, employees should only send personal LinkedIn messages using their own personal devices like a smartphone or home computer.
Accidental employer access
There are a couple scenarios where an employer may unintentionally gain temporary access to an employee’s LinkedIn messages:
- If the employee remains logged into LinkedIn on a shared work device, the employer could simply open the app and view messages.
- If the employer knows the password to the employee’s account, they could log in and read messages.
To prevent such accidental access, employees should always log out of LinkedIn after using it. And never share account credentials with an employer or manager.
Using LinkedIn Messages for work
Some employees collaboratively use LinkedIn messaging to communicate with colleagues, customers, partners etc. as part of their job.
In this case, the employer generally has a right to monitor these work-related conversations. After all, they are part of the employee’s duties.
However, messaging connections outside of work purposes from a personal account would still be private.
In certain legal situations, an employer may be able to access an employee’s private LinkedIn messages:
- If the messages are subject to a subpoena, court order, or regulatory investigation.
- If the employer reasonably suspects criminal activity or serious misconduct that violates policy.
These scenarios tend to be rare. They also depend on the laws and regulations applicable to the employer.
Consequences of improperly accessing messages
Except for legitimate legal exceptions, improperly accessing an employee’s private LinkedIn messages could have serious consequences for the employer such as:
- Employee litigation alleging privacy violations
- Regulatory penalties for unlawful access of private communications
- Negative PR and reputation damage if the breach becomes public
Rather than snooping on employees, a best practice is to clearly define policies about use of company accounts and devices, and monitor only authorized work communications.
- By default, LinkedIn messages are private between the sender and recipient(s) only.
- Employers cannot directly access employees’ private messages sent from personal accounts.
- Messages sent using company LinkedIn accounts or devices may be viewable by employer.
- Limit work conversations to official company social media accounts.
- Improper access of private messages could create legal liability for the employer.