LinkedIn Denies It “Hacked” Third Party Email Accounts

The company will have to defend this position in court

LinkedIn has denied allegations it hacked into members’ email accounts and used their personal contact lists to send out promotional messages.

Last week, four plaintiffs filed a class action lawsuit in the US in which they accused the social network of secretly harvesting email addresses for marketing purposes. The group claims LinkedIn didn’t inform them it would use their contacts to attempt to grow its user base, and there was no way to opt-out.

“Quite simply, this is not true, and with so much misinformation out there, we wanted to clear up a few things for our members,” said Blake Lawit, senior director of Litigation at LinkedIn.

Social Spam

In the lawsuit, LinkedIn is accused of violating California Invasion of Privacy Act, the Comprehensive Data Access and Fraud Act, the Wiretap Act, and the Common Law Right of Publicity.

NREY“The wrongful conduct by LinkedIn that is the subject of this complaint arises from Linkedln’s practice of breaking into its users’ third party email accounts, downloading email addresses that appear in the account, and then sending out multiple reminder emails ostensibly on behalf of the user advertising LinkedIn to non-members,” reads the filing.

According to New York Times, LinkedIn had 238 million users worldwide at the end of June, growing 37 percent in just one year. The company relies heavily on user referrals to fuel this growth, which in turn raises its stock price.

However, Lawit said the social network does not access its members’ email accounts, and would never “hack” or “break into” anything. He also pointed out that it’s possible for LinkedIn to send messages to user’s contacts, but only after it obtained permission.

“We do give you the choice to share your email contacts, so you can connect on LinkedIn with other professionals that you know and trust,” said Lawit.

“As we’ve said before, our core value at LinkedIn is Members First. This guides all the decisions that we make when it comes to our members, including how we communicate with them and how we use their data. That’s why we felt we needed to explain we believe that the claims in this lawsuit are without merit, and we wanted to correct the false accusations and misleading headlines.”

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