Many LinkedIn users received an unusual email on Friday, which said that some LinkedIn users might be owed money as a result of a class-action suit. It wasn’t a hacker email looking to steal passwords or credit card info; LinkedIn, it turns out, has agreed to pay $13 million to settle the suit, which essentially called out LinkedIn for sending too many emails to customers who used its “add connections” feature.
The professional networking site settled after being sued by LinkedIn users who had given permission for the service to email contacts in their address books with LinkedIn invitations. The lawsuit alleged that LinkedIn spammed those contacts with invitations to “connect” too frequently and was, well, really annoying. Though the settlement hasn’t been approved by the class-action suit participants, both LinkedIn and its lawyers agreed to it; any user that employed the “add connections” feature between September 17, 2011, and October 31, 2014, could be eligible to receive money from LinkedIn. The company denies any wrongdoing, but changed its terms of service shortly after the settlement was announced.
So many users were affected, it seems, that the website announcing the settlement crashed on Friday. Both the email announcing the lawsuit settlement and the accompanying website have been criticized by many parties; Forbes, for example, pointed out that the email was sent late on a Friday, when many users would not see it. It also asked affected users to submit sensitive financial information online, in order to receive their settlement through a direct deposit–a security no-no that could lead to privacy intrusions arguably much worse than pesky LinkedIn emails.
Peter Shankman, a New York-based social media marketing expert, told Fast Company that the settlement was likely the simplest course of action for LinkedIn. “Class action settlements are usually easy outs for the company,” he said. “Let’s face it, who’s actually going to take the time to read and respond? Ironically, that’s behavior that [has] come about from LinkedIn sending out so many messages in the first place.”
Fast Company has reached out to LinkedIn for comment, and will update this article as necessary.