Professional social networking site LinkedIn is facing a legal lawsuit. A group of its users have filed a complaint alleging that the company breaks into users’ email and sends out LinkedIn requests pretending to be the actual person. However the company falsifies the accusations of hacking or breaking into its users’ accounts.
As of June 2013, LinkedIn reported to have acquired 225 million users. Each user is given an option to import desired contacts from their Gmail or Yahoo mail account. The complaint states that LinkedIn uses this step to download every contact in the user’s mail account. After getting this information, promotional content and LinkedIn invitations are sent to the contacts using the user’s account without consent.
The complaint, filed this week in California, suggests hacking and wiretapping to be marketing schemes for LinkedIn. It says that the website sent repeated reminders to people to join the network using its existing users’ names. The complaint reads “ The LinkedIn used each Plaintiffs name, photograph, and/or likeness without consent in emails endorsing LinkedIn.” The people who filed the complaint seek claims for the whole of LinkedIn’s 225 million member community.
LinkedIn’s Senior Director, Litigation, Blake Lawit denies all the accusations of hacking on the behalf of the company. In an official blogpost LinkedIn says that it doesn’t access users’ email accounts without permission. And also that it never sends messages or invitations on the behalf of its members unless consented. LinkedIn believes that the legal claims in the lawsuit are without merit and they intend to fight it.
Factually LinkedIn does give users a choice to import their contacts. If one isn’t careful then he/she might end up sending an invitation to all of them. And however easy it might be to connect with other professionals, revoking a connection request is equally tedious. Once the consent is given, LinkedIn will send out several emails to the contacts asking them to join the network.
The end result of the legal process will tell how much truth is there to this string of accusations and denials. This lawsuit might however will create a paranoia among some of the LinkedIn users, resulting in the tarnishing of its brand reputation.
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