LinkedIn is a popular professional networking platform used by millions of people worldwide. While LinkedIn provides an easy way to connect and communicate with other professionals, sometimes users want to extract and analyze their LinkedIn messages and conversations at scale. This is where scraping LinkedIn messages comes in.
Web scraping refers to the automated extraction of data from websites. It involves using bots and scripts to harvest information from web pages and APIs. When it comes to LinkedIn, users may want to scrape their own inbox messages for personal analytics or recruitment teams may want to scrape candidate response rates for batch analysis. However, scraping LinkedIn does come with some legal and ethical risks that users should be aware of.
Is it Legal to Scrape LinkedIn Messages?
According to LinkedIn’s User Agreement, scraping or exporting data from their website is prohibited without permission. They state that “You agree that you will not engage in any activity that interferes with or disrupts LinkedIn’s networks, servers, or websites.” So strictly speaking, scraping LinkedIn without their consent goes against their terms of service.
However, scraping a reasonable volume of your own LinkedIn messages for personal use likely poses little legal risk. You are extracting data you have access to for your own purposes. The law is murkier when it comes to scraping at scale or scraping other user’s data without their permission. That crosses more clearly into breach of contract with LinkedIn and raises privacy concerns.
Ethical Considerations of Scraping LinkedIn
Beyond legal technicalities, scraping LinkedIn messages also involves some ethical hazards to consider:
- Respecting other user’s privacy – Only scrape your own messages or data you have permission to access.
- Not overburdening LinkedIn’s systems – Keep scraping reasonable to avoid impacting operations.
- Following ethical recruitment practices – Don’t spam or harass candidates.
- Securing scraped data – Take care to store extracted information securely.
How to Scrape Your LinkedIn Messages
If after considering the legal and ethical factors you still want to scrape your LinkedIn messages, here are a few methods to do so:
Use the LinkedIn Browser Extraction Tool
LinkedIn provides an official data extraction tool that can be installed as a browser extension. It lets you export data including your messages, contacts, and profile information. To use it:
- Install the LinkedIn Data Extractor extension.
- Log into LinkedIn and navigate to your messages.
- Click the extension icon and choose to export messages.
- Select date range and fields to export.
- Wait for the .zip file containing your messages to be prepared.
- Download the .zip and extract the messages CSV file.
This method provides a straightforward way to export LinkedIn messages with official approval. However, the data extraction capabilities are limited compared to web scraping tools.
Use a General Purpose Web Scraper
Another option is using an off-the-shelf web scraping tool or programming library to extract LinkedIn data. Some popular options include:
- Octoparse – Visual web scraping tool for beginners.
- ParseHub – No-code data extraction tool.
- Puppeteer – Headless Chrome NodeJS library for scraping.
- Scrapy – Python scraping framework.
- Beautiful Soup – Python scraping library focused on parsing HTML and XML.
These tools provide more customization options for scraping LinkedIn. However, automation violates LinkedIn’s ToS and scrapers may get blocked if detected. Proceed with caution.
Use the LinkedIn API
LinkedIn also provides an official API that can be used to programmatically access some data including messages, contacts, and profiles. To leverage the LinkedIn API:
- Register as a LinkedIn developer.
- Create a LinkedIn app to get API keys.
- Install the LinkedIn API Python wrapper or another library.
- Authenticate with OAuth 2.0.
- Use API calls to extract messages and other data.
This is the officially approved way to access LinkedIn data. But the API has significant limitations in terms of data volume and does not provide the full breadth of information available via scraping.
Storing and Analyzing Scraped Messages
Once you have successfully scraped your LinkedIn messages, you can work with the data in CSV format or load it into a database. From there you can analyze your messages using Excel, SQL queries, or connecting it to data visualization tools like Tableau for dashboards.
If you extracted your messages using the LinkedIn API, they may be provided in JSON format which you can import into MongoDB or PostgreSQL for flexible analysis. The ability to load your scraped LinkedIn messages into a structured database opens up many possibilities for personal and professional data analytics.
Scraping LinkedIn Messages via Third-Party Tools
There are also a variety of third-party tools and services that offer LinkedIn scraping capabilities:
- Dux-Soup – Paid web scraping tool with LinkedIn support.
- Phantombuster – API and web scraping service with DIY and fully automated options.
- Parseur – Web scraping tool with rotating proxies to avoid blocks.
- SerpApi – Scrape LinkedIn via paid API access.
These tools abstract away much of the technical complexity of web scraping. But outsourcing LinkedIn scraping to third-parties can be ethically questionable and often violates LinkedIn’s ToS.
Scraping LinkedIn messages can provide valuable personal analytics but comes with legal and ethical risks. For limited personal use, using the official data exporter or API is the safest approach. Broad scraping likely violates LinkedIn’s ToS and should be avoided. Consider your specific use case carefully, scrape ethically and proceed with caution when extracting data from LinkedIn without explicit permission.