LinkedIn Sued for Allegedly Hacking Users’ Address Books

LinkedIn Sued for Allegedly Hacking Users' Address Books

Lawsuit alleges that the professional social network raids users’ address books to promote its services

A group of LinkedIn users have sued the social media networking platform for taking their information without consent and using it to send emails to their contacts urging them to sign up for the service.

If you know someone with a LinkedIn account, you're probably very familiar with the emails urging you to sign up for the service and connect with your friends or colleagues. Those emails appear to be at the heart of the proposed class action lawsuit filed Sept. 17.

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In the suit, four LinkedIn users claimed that the platform, which boasts well over 200 million users, violated several privacy and communications laws in using their information to promote the service without their consent, with no way to stop the non-endorsed endorsements from happening.

More alarmingly, the suit also accused LinkedIn of “breaking into its users’ third party email accounts, downloading multiple 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.”

The platform not only combed through their address books, the plaintiffs said, but it also harvested any and all email addresses which which those plaintiffs had any correspondence, sending all of them multiple emails with the plaintiffs’ names and photos asking them to join the service. “LinkedIn routinely takes over 1,000 email addresses from a user's email account,” the suit said.

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The lawsuit tried to bolster its case by including several quotes from LinkedIn users on various LinkedIn forums, desperately trying to find out how to stop their email contacts from being flooded with invitations with their names on them.

LinkedIn called the accusations false in a blog post, saying that any charge that it breaks into third-party email accounts is not true and that any emails sent on the users’ behalf were done by the users’ choice.

“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,” LinkedIn's senior director of litigation Blake Lawit wrote. “We will continue to do everything we can to make our communications about how to do this as clear as possible.”

 Pamela Chelin contributed to this report.


  • Beverly

    This happened to me and I was outraged at the dozens of contacts that got a message I was inviting them to join. It took me several days and many angry emails to stop them. Meanwhile friends were emailing me thinking I was the culprit. I should have sued too.

  • john mahon

    I read your article on “disabled” actors STILL pretty much shut out work on television. In the late 70's and early 80's I taught acting for The Media Access Office. (Robert David Hall was a student of mine.) I also directed 3 showcases that resulted in a host of “gimp” (I don't recognize words like: disabled, cripple, handicapped, et al.) actors being hired. Having contracted polio in 1950, I lost the use of my left arm, but never considered myself “handicapped,” but just a guy with a bum arm. The biggest difficulty back then was most of the gimps could not act. They couldn't even get in the buildings to audition. The fact was, and STILL IS, whether a gimp, or considered “normal,” each person must have some teaching under their belt…and really want to work. Having a “Disability” is not enough. Classes on auditioning would also help. Sacramento should sponsor some classes.
    (The Media Access Awards are a joke … many attend to get their picture taken with the gimps.)
    John Mahon