The popular professional networking site LinkedIn settled a class action lawsuit this week, after users complaints flooded in concerning emails sent by the company.
In efforts to expand its member base, LinkedIn offered existing users the option to send emails to their contacts under their “add connections” service — if the recipients of these emails didn’t respond to the invitation within a set period of time, two more reminder emails were sent. All three emails were sent in the user’s name, according to the notice of the pending lawsuit.
The emails, which all included the canned sentence, “I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn,” have sparked angry, sarcastic and humorous responses from site members and social media users over the past few months. Frank Chimero, a designer from New York, took to captioning cartoons with the unfortunate tagline.
— Frank Chimero (@frank_chimero) September 22, 2015
As irritating as receiving unsolicited marketing emails is though, it was the senders — the LinkedIn users whose names appeared on the emails — who led the lawsuit. Although they authorized the initial emails to be sent in their name and using their photo, they allege that LinkedIn was unauthorized to use their likeness in the the two reminder emails.
According to the suit, LinkedIn allegedly deceived its users into providing the site with access to their third-part email contacts.
“Once obtained, LinkedIn uses the email addresses to harvest additional email addresses and other data stored in unsuspecting users’ email accounts,” the suit says. “After copying and permanently storing the harvested data on its servers, LinkedIn repeatedly spams the owners of the email addresses thus harvested with emails that appear to be sent by the unwitting LinkedIn member who initially shared an email address with LinkedIn.”
Filed on Dec. 15, 2014, the suit goes on to allege that LinkedIn purposely deceived its users and illicitly used their likenesses and email contacts in an attempt to attract users to the site and sell premium memberships.
The principal plaintiffs include a consulting attorney who alleges that LinkedIn repeatedly sent endorsement emails on her behalf to opposing council (and their clients) in active litigation, and professor who alleges that LinkedIn sent hundreds of emails to his students and colleagues pushing them to pay $400 for an annual premium membership.
“Instead of obtaining the consent of users to repeatedly barrage everyone they ever emailed with advertisements containing their names and likenesses, LinkedIn deceptively states, when it asks for that first email address, that it will never ’email anyone without your permission,'” says the suit.
In response to the suit, LinkedIn will pay $13 million into a fund that will be used to compensate anyone who files an approved claim, according to the notice of pending action. A maximum of $1500 can be awarded to any plaintiff, plus appropriate compensation for attorney’s fees.
To learn how you can join this class action lawsuit visit the Add Connection Settlement website.
(Main Image courtesy of LinkedIn)