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October 15, 2019

Privacy Tip of the Week: Delete Your LinkedIn Profile

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When most people think of social media, the first platforms that come to mind are mainstays like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Few think of LinkedIn, considered a professional site, which connects individuals to organizations and others in similar industries, instead of bringing friends and families together. Many believe that, because the site is used for work-related purposes, it’s safe and doesn’t harm user privacy like many other social platforms do. However, the platform is actually one of the worst for privacy. Here’s why you should delete your LinkedIn profile:

  • It promotes oversharing
  • The company is prone to data breaches
  • Professional mistakes are public
  • The organization has a history of data misuse
  • How to stay safe if you can’t delete LinkedIn

It Promotes Oversharing

LinkedIn has a norm of transparency that many other forms of social media do not. Most users create incredibly detailed profiles about their lives, including home town, work history, and contact information, to impress prospective employers or clients. Although sharing this information isn’t mandatory, it is expected for profiles to be considered trustworthy. Users who don’t conform to the norm of transparency appear suspicious to others. Rather than giving away too much information, or having a suspicious profile with not enough detail, you should delete your LinkedIn profile altogether.

The Company is Prone to Data Breaches

Data breaches seem to be in the news at least once a month, if not more. These security attacks can have serious repercussions for the clients of the organizations attacked. In the past, LinkedIn has been the victim of such breaches on more than one occasion. In 2012, Russian hackers stole the passwords of 6.4 million users. Another attack in 2016 saw the accounts of 117 million users compromised (this attack may also have been related to the 2012 hack). While previous breaches don’t necessarily mean another successful attack will occur in the future, it’s always best to err on the side of caution and get rid of accounts you fear could be compromised.

Delete Your LinkedIn Profile Before Professional Mistakes Become Public

We all like to believe that the companies we work for are infallible. However, that isn’t always the case. If you list yourself as an employee of a company that took part in illegal or immoral activities, future employers could question your involvement and may not trust you enough to hire you on. Deleting your LinkedIn profile may avoid this issue.

The Organization Has a History of Data Misuse

In the past, LinkedIn has been sued by users for practices that violated privacy. In 2013, a lawsuit alleged that the company sent barrages of emails on behalf of users adding new connections. These emails reminded the potential connections to accept invites and. They also annoyed the recipients, embarrassed those whose names were attached to the messages, and were not consensual. LinkedIn paid a hefty fine and took a hit to its reputation. While this issue has since been resolved, it serves as a reminder that many large organizations take liberties with user privacy and the best way to stay safe is to not deal with those groups at all.

How to Stay Safe If You Can’t Delete LinkedIn

Not everyone has the luxury of deleting their accounts. Perhaps you work for a business that requires its use for all employees, or maybe you’re actively job searching and using LinkedIn to make that search easier. In those situations, there are ways to make the platform safer for you:

  • Set Up Two-Factor Authentication: Two-factor authentication is an extra layer of security users can add to their accounts. With this setting activated, you not only need to provide the password for your account but you also must put in a code sent to your email address or cell phone. It prevents hackers from accessing your account even if they know your password, because they won’t be able to provide the two-factor code.
  • Increase Your Password Strength: In addition to two-factor authentication, you should also make your password as strong as possible. Hackers can’t compromise your account if they can’t crack your password in the first place.
  • Reduce What You Share: Do you need to put your address, birth date, and phone number on your LinkedIn account? Probably not. By reducing the amount of private information you share, you reduce the risks of your data being used inappropriately by third parties.
  • Update Your Privacy Settings: Take a look at the privacy settings you have set and increase them to their maximum strength.

While LinkedIn can be useful for professional development, it could lead to reduced privacy and safety online. Stay protected by deleting your account.

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