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LinkedIn settles class-action lawsuit alleging it spams user contacts

Millions of people could be entitled to part of a $13-million US settlement after LinkedIn agreed recently to pay out and stop spamming email associates of some of its customers.

Company agrees to pay $13M to users for spamming their email contact lists

LinkedIn Corp. has agreed to pay $13 million US to users for spamming their email contact lists. (Paul Sakuma/Associated Press)

"Would you like to join my professional network on LinkedIn?"

Or would you rather have $1,500 US for the inconvenience of having your contacts incessantly pestered with requests to join?

While the line urging web users to join the professional network has become a ubiquitous email subject line, the $1,500 offer could be a possibility for millions of people after LinkedIn agreed recently to settle a class-action lawsuit for ceaselessly spamming email associates of some of its customers.

The California-based networking company just settled a lawsuit launched in 2013 from an irate customer who was angry that the company was spamming his email contact list with requests to join and connect on the network.

"Linkedln intentionally and knowingly created and developed this deceptive advertising scheme to improperly use the names, photographs, likenesses, and identities of plaintiffs for the purpose of generating substantial profits," the lawsuit alleged.

Specifically, any users who clicked the "add connections" button were giving permission to the service to scan their email contacts and look for addresses that had yet to sign up for the service. If LinkedIn found a new email address, it would send an email to that address on the user's behalf, urging the person to sign up and connect.

Contact lists spammed

If the recipient didn't then sign up, LinkedIn would then send two more emails asking the same thing.

Those two additional emails appear to be where the company veered from acceptable communication and into the realm of spam, landing itself in the crosshairs of reams of new laws designed to punish those who send unsolicited emails.

From now on, LinkedIn says it will advise users of the Add Connections service that this will result in their email contacts receiving multiple emails urging them to connect.

Although it admits no wrongdoing, LinkedIn has settled the suit and has agreed to pay $13 million in restitution. About $3.25 million will go to the lawyers handling the case, but that still leaves a lot of money for wronged users.

The company says any user of the Add Connections feature between Sept. 17, 2011, and Oct. 31, 2014, is eligible to part of the payout, to a maximum of $1,500 per person. According to the law firm directing the settlement, payouts are not limited to U.S. residents — anyone who meets the above description could be included.

If enough people fill out a claim form to make the per-person payout less than $10, the company says it will kick in an additional $750,000 to the funds.

LinkedIn says it has already contacted everyone included in the class, but the website for the law firm handling the case has a form online that you can fill out to include yourself in the class action. The deadline is Dec.14.

People not on the service who've had their inboxes filled up by unsolicited emails from LinkedIn, unfortunately, are not entitled to any compensation.

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