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LinkedIn Finds Itself In An Email Privacy Mess, Claims Users Knew

LinkedIn is accused of spamming its users' email contacts with messages.

LinkedIn has found itself in the middle of an embarrassing kerfuffle over how well it treats its users' privacy: A new lawsuit alleges the company is complicit in abusing the contacts list of each user, spamming them with unwanted messages.

The accusations are harsh, suggesting that LinkedIn "hacks" its users' accounts and then sends messages that look like they're from the user in question to members of their email contacts list. LinkedIn has quickly felt the need to defend itself, and points to an official blog post by Blake Lawit, LinkedIn's senior director of litigation, which states this is absolutely not true. Lawit says there's simply no hacking, nor does LinkedIn "send messages or invitations to join LinkedIn on your behalf to anyone unless you have given us permission to do so."

The issue is that the permissions switch to do this is flipped to the default "on" position—users actively have to find the control and disable the email service. This is a slightly nefarious trick, and it's exactly the same sort of maneuver that got Facebook into all sorts of legal trouble around the world when it tried to force its own view of "privacy" by changing its users' default privacy settings. LinkedIn was in the headlines recently for the inverse reason: It was said to be standing up to the NSA about user privacy.

[Image via Flickr user: Jason Hickey]

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  • Igor M.

    I received an email from members (at) that a member wanted to connect with me, i click on the email and it took me to a viagra site. I double-checked that the email address is really from linkedin. I assumed someone within was making money of these kinds of solicitations.
    I contacted Linkedin and warned them that there might be someone messing with their systems for his own personal gain, first they asked me to provide screenshots and long-headers to which they responded the following to me: The email you mention has been identified as a fraudulent email and was not sent out by LinkedIn or anyone associated with the company. Your privacy is always a top concern. 

  • Maria Marsala

    Overall, the number of ads on LI is getting to maximum level.  I find them in my updates (and the only way to know is that you have to put your mouse over the offer to see that it's a sponsored link).  In my Inbox, in Groups, and the list goes on. 

    IMO, they've gone too far. 

    But that's what happens when some companies go IPO

  • CN

    This would be more valuable info if you identified where to find the switch to disable sharing.

  • Maria Marsala


    Go into your LinkedIn account     at the end of the LinkedIn url  put  /settings and you'll more quickly get into the settings. 

    I would post the whole URL but I'm not able to in this comment box.