On Facebook my colleague and well-respected career expert Susan Whitcomb asked if there was a way to block people from seeing updates in LinkedIn. The typical scenerio is that someone starts a job search, and wants to NOT broadcast that to their network. They might update their resume, post an “update” on the homepage, participate in groups, etc…. how do you block individuals from seeing what you are doing?
The short answer is, YOU CANNOT.
This question about privacy reminds me of my IT security professor back in the 90’s who said that if you want or expect any privacy, UNPLUG your computer from the internet. Period.
You really shouldn’t have any assumption or expectation of privacy online, ever.
In LinkedIn, there aren’t any foolproof ways to shut people out of what you are doing. In fact, you can’t even do that in Facebook.
Let me give you an example. Facebook has more refined personal privacy options than LinkedIn does, partially because of what Facebook is for and what LinkedIn is for. Anyway, even with the very tight privacy settings in Facebook, it’s possible to *think* you are ranting privately, and you kind of are. But what if one of your “friends” shares your rant with someone you mutually know, who you have blocked?
The rant isn’t so private anymore, is it?
What if they take a screenshot of your rant and post it on a blog?
Not private at all, huh?
You can have all the locks in place, but as long as humans are involved, there is potential for social engineering, which means that your update you thought was private is now shared in the lunchroom and boardrooms of your current company.
Are there security options in LinkedIn to block? Kind of.
Should you trust them? Only if… well, actually, NO. NEVER.
But what if you aren’t connected with anyone at your company?
Um… let me explain how LinkedIn works: it doesn’t matter!
They can go to LinkedIn and still see some (most) of your stuff. They can also do a search on Google and find some (most) of your stuff. LinkedIn, by it’s nature, is a place to find and be found, to be visible, to share your brand, experience, etc. It’s not a place to hide stuff. That’s what a diary is for (you know, the book you write stuff in, and it’s not connected to the Internet!?).
Like I said, there are some technical privacy tools in place, kind of … BUT none of those matter as long as ANYONE in your network might share what you posted with their contacts… who just might be your boss you are trying to hide from.