The short answer is – yes, LinkedIn messages are private. When you send a message to someone on LinkedIn, it is not visible or accessible to anyone else besides you and the recipient. However, there are some important things to understand about privacy and security of LinkedIn messaging.
LinkedIn messages are end-to-end encrypted
LinkedIn uses industry standard encryption protocols to protect messages in transit between senders and recipients. This means the content of your messages is scrambled and can only be deciphered by the intended recipient. Even LinkedIn cannot see the content of your private conversations.
Part of message header visible to LinkedIn
While message content is encrypted, some information in the message header is visible to LinkedIn, including the sender, recipient, date/time, and subject line. This allows LinkedIn to enable features like searching messages and viewing basic message metadata. But the actual content remains private.
LinkedIn compliance and legal obligations
Like all technology platforms, LinkedIn may be required by law to provide message data in response to valid legal orders and processes like subpoenas. Their User Agreement outlines the limited situations where they may need to disclose member information. However, this is no different than any major email or messaging provider.
Recipient can screenshots or forward messages
While LinkedIn secures messages in transit between sender and recipient, remember that the recipient can take screenshots or forward the messages to others. So don’t assume everything you send is permanently private. Treat messaging on LinkedIn with the same care and discretion as any other platform.
Connection required for direct messaging
To send private direct messages on LinkedIn, you need to be connected to the recipient as a 1st degree connection. LinkedIn will not allow messaging strangers or 2nd+ degree connections due to privacy and spam concerns. The exception is if you pay for Premium, which allows you to send “InMail” messages to anyone.
Take care with sensitive info in messages
In general, it’s wise to avoid sending highly sensitive information like passwords, financial data, confidential work documents etc via LinkedIn messaging. While messages are encrypted, there are risks around sender/recipient authentication, forwarding screenshots, device security, compliance etc. For sensitive matter, it may be wiser to communicate over more secured channels like an encrypted email service.
Device and account security is critical
To ensure the privacy of your LinkedIn messages, it’s essential to keep your LinkedIn account protected with strong authentication like two-factor authentication, and maintain security on your mobile devices and computer browsers. If someone gains access to your account or devices, they can view your private messages. So device and account security is a critical component of message privacy.
Temporary messages can provide added privacy
LinkedIn allows you to send messages that automatically expire/disappear after being read – similar to other platforms like Snapchat. These temporary messages delete after a set timeframe, removing them from the recipient’s inbox. This prevents screenshots and provides an extra layer of ephemeral privacy, although the recipient could copy/paste the content before it vanishes.
How to enable two-factor authentication
Two-factor authentication (2FA) significantly improves LinkedIn account security by requiring both your password and a secondary one-time code to login. Here are the steps to enable 2FA on your LinkedIn account:
- Go to your LinkedIn Account Settings
- Select “Security” from the menu
- Choose “Two-step verification”
- Toggle on the 2FA switch and choose an authentication method (app or SMS)
- Follow the instructions to setup your authentication app or confirm your mobile number
With 2FA enabled, each time you login you will need to enter both your LinkedIn password and a fresh verification code from your authentication app or SMS.
Review privacy settings
Along with message encryption, it’s a good idea to periodically review your overall LinkedIn privacy settings to control what profile data is visible to others. Under the Privacy & Settings menu you can configure options like:
- Profile viewing options
- Activity broadcasts
- Ad targeting preferences
- Partner ad sharing
- Data sharing with 3rd parties
Taking advantage of these settings allows you to tighten control over your LinkedIn activity, profile data and how it may be used for advertising targeting or analytics purposes.
The bottom line on LinkedIn message privacy
While LinkedIn messages offer robust encryption and privacy protections, it’s important to use common sense when messaging sensitive topics. Assume recipients can screenshot or forward messages to others if they choose. Keep your account and devices locked down and leverage temporary disappearing messages when appropriate. With reasonable precautions, LinkedIn messaging can be used confidently for productive professional conversations.