LinkedIn to pay $13 million in settlement over spam emails

LinkedIn, a professional networking platform endorsed by the UConn’s Center for Career Development, will pay $13 million in settlement for spam emails. (TheSeafarer/Flickr)

LinkedIn, a professional networking platform endorsed by the UConn’s Center for Career Development, will pay $13 million in settlement for spam emails.

According to an email from LinkedIn to its users regarding the lawsuit, the “Add Connections” feature “allows LinkedIn members to import contacts from their external email accounts and email connection invitations to one or more of those contacts inviting them to connect on LinkedIn. If a connection invitation is not accepted within a certain period of time, up to two ‘reminder emails’ are sent reminding the recipient that the connection invitation is pending. The court found that members consented to importing their contacts and sending the connection invitation, but did not find that members consented to LinkedIn sending two reminder emails.”

“When you use the import tool, which is the basis of this class action lawsuit, the import tool just scrapes the emails from your contacts list to which you are giving it access and sends out these generic messages,” John Bau, career consultant and LinkedIn specialist, said. “Based on that fact alone, we have always discouraged students with whom we speak from using that tool.”

The settlement mandates that LinkedIn revise its disclosure, clarifying that two reminder emails are sent. Additionally, by the end of 2015, LinkedIn will implement a new function allowing members to stop the reminder emails from being sent by canceling the connection invitation. LinkedIn also agreed to pay $13 million to pay members of the settlement class who filed claims.

“The very thing that the lawsuit claims is bad news is highlighting a feature on LinkedIn that we have always recommended against using anyway,” Bau said. “It strengthens our suggestion of ‘think before you click.’”

The Center for Career Development office will continue to encourage the use of LinkedIn for professional networking with UConn’s 90,000 alum who are connected on the site, Bau said. 

“The broad stance from the Center for Career Development is that LinkedIn is, and continues to be, an invaluable tool in job searching,” Bau said. “It is the premiere professional networking platform and it is very different from every other form of social media because it is based in professionalism.”

Bau said that students should customize their connection message to include who you are, how you know the person you’re trying to connect with and why you are seeking the connection. LinkedIn allows 250 characters to do so. 

“My hope is that most students were not adversely affected by this tool inside LinkedIn and odds are the lawsuit will not affect them one way or another,” Bau said.