Did LinkedIn Betray Users?

Linkedin

The well known professional networking site LinkedIn (NYSE:LNKD) is facing a lawsuit from users who claim that their identities were taken by the company and then used for marketing to make a profit. This was done by hacking into their external email addresses and using the contact info, reports Bloomberg.

The complainants have requested the judge bar the site from repeating the same practices as the lawsuit continues. A court filing also requested that any revenue LinkedIn earned from utilizing this information is returned.

The site has more than 238 million members and claims to be the largest networking site of this type in the world. The complaint, which was filed last week, included a quote from the company’s CEO Jeff Weiner who said, “This strong membership growth is due in large part to new growth optimization efforts.”

The idea is that an external email address is the user name for the site, and these are accessed when left open, says the complaint. LinkedIn contests that the company does not access users’ email accounts or take this information.

One user, Deborah Lagutaris, found out that thousands of invitations had been sent in her name. When she contacted the company, they told her they did not know what had happened. Other users reported similar problems.

The complaint sets out that this is a growth strategy from LinkedIn where the company sends multiple emails promoting the company’s services and the brand to new users. It also sends follow up emails if they do not respond to the initial invitation. According to the plaintiffs, the company guarantees that it is not going to email on the behalf of users.

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