One of LinkedIn’s most notoriously annoying features is its insistence on snitching. Anytime you visit a person’s profile on LinkedIn, the site lets that person know, which goes against most other social media platforms’ philosophy of, “Sure, check out their page — they’ll never know.” LinkedIn tries to sell you on the fact that it works both ways: Yes, you tell on yourself whenever you look at someone’s profile, but you also see when someone looks at yours. I’m sure this transparency is meant to build professional networks and give you insight into what types of professionals are looking at your skills, but sometimes, you want to learn more about another professional without them knowing.
Maybe you’re taking a moment to research the person conducting your job interview, or maybe you’re curious about your boss’ experience, but a notification that you’ve snooped their page invites more questions than you feel like answering. In any case, there’s no reason to keep your browsing open to all if you don’t want to.
How to browse LinkedIn privately
LinkedIn actually has a few different transparency modes you can choose from when viewing other user’s profiles. To access them, log in, then click your profile (under “Me”) and choose “Settings and privacy.” On the sidebar, choose “Visibility,” then choose “Profile viewing.”
Here, you’ll see three options. By default, “Your name and headline” will be chosen, along with a preview of what each user sees when you click on their profile. Your second choice, however, is “Private profile characteristics.” This option only tells the user a small fact about your network, rather than any discernible information about you. For example, with this setting enabled, LinkedIn users might see “Someone at G / O Media” viewed their profile, rather than “Jake Peterson, Senior Technology Editor, Lifehacker at G / O Media.”
The last option, however, is the one you want for complete privacy: “Private mode” will give the user no personal information of any kind, allowing you to look at as many profiles as you like totally incognito. You’ll still leave a trace, accounting for another profile view for each page you visit. But no one will be able to know it was you, nor will they be given a hint as to who you are.
Now, these two more private options come with a caveat: If you choose to use them, you won’t be able to see who has viewed your profile anymore, and LinkedIn will erase your viewer history. TikTok’s profile view history feature works the same way, except that the platform has you opt-in to profile views rather than having it be the default for everyone.
Personally, I can live with that: I don’t need to know exactly who is looking at my profile, so I’m comfortable using LinkedIn’s private mode. If you absolutely need to know, but don’t want other People knowing when you check out their pages, you’ll have to pay for LinkedIn Premium. Otherwise, you’re either all-in, or totally out.