Judge allows lawsuit over LinkedIn emails to progress

A class action lawsuit that alleges LinkedIn (LNKD) was overly aggressive promoting its service by sending emails to users' contacts was allowed to move forward Thursday, a federal judge ruled. LinkedIn was seeking to have the case tossed out.

In a 39-page ruling, U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh concluded that LinkedIn was within its rights to harvest every email address users had on Google Contacts to ask them to join the site -- because users agreed to allow it. However, the networking site's continuing to send emails could have put at risk the reputation of users by peppering those who did not respond to the first request with more requests. The emails to those not on LinkedIn with the text "I'd like to add you to my professional network" appeared to come from users themselves.

"The reputational harm is magnified by the fact that the only people who receive the second endorsement email are the user's contacts who chose not to register for LinkedIn upon receipt of the first email," Kohn wrote in her ruling. "Moreover, the only individuals who receive the third endorsement email are the user's contacts who chose not to register for LinkedIn upon receipt of the first and second emails. Therefore, individuals who receive second and third email invitations to join LinkedIn after declining one or two previous email invitations to join LinkedIn from the same sender may become annoyed at the sender, which could be professionally or personally harmful."

The matter is only made worse, Koh said, because the emails were not only being sent to people who were well known to the LinkedIn user. The emails went to anyone the user had emailed "using the reply, reply to all, or forward functions." And the lawsuit says that once the emails start going out, users are virtually powerless to stop them.

LinkedIn hosted forums have hundreds upon hundreds of posts from users trying to find out how to stop the emails from being sent and how to cut off access to their contacts. In Google, you can see what apps have access to your account information by going into your settings and clicking on the "Security" tab and then "Account permissions." You can revoke permissions that you no longer want to authorize.

Dropping folks who LinkedIn imported from your contact lists is a bit more clunky. On LinkedIn, go to the import contacts pages and click on "Manage imported contacts" and delete those you don't want to be there.

  • Mitch Lipka On Twitter» On Facebook»

    Mitch Lipka is an award-winning consumer columnist. He was in charge of consumer news for AOL's personal finance site and was a senior editor at Consumer Reports. He was also a reporter for The Philadelphia Inquirer and the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, among other publications.

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