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 TheNextWeb.com 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.