Social network LinkedIn has agreed to pay $13m to users to settle a class-action lawsuit accusing it of sending too many unsolicited emails to users.
The lawsuit took issue with LinkedIn’s “add connections” feature, which lets users import their personal contacts into the social network (the source of the infamous subject line “I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn”).
If a user didn’t reply to those emails, LinkedIn followed them up with two further ones again inviting them to join the site.
But while the emails are annoying for the recipients, it’s actually the “senders” – the users in whose name the emails were sent – who led the lawsuit. The grounds for complaint were twofold: while those users may have given permission for the initial invitation to be sent out, they didn’t give explicit consent for the following two messages or for their name and image to be used in them.
The suit complains that: “Despite the appearance of the endorsement emails, the users do not compose the message, they do not consent to LinkedIn sending multiple messages on their behalf, and they are not compensated for the use of their name or likeness in the advertising or promotion of LinkedIn.”
The $13m settlement is filtering down to LinkedIn users in the US as a result of the class-action, and on Monday the site notified eligible users that they could have a claim (the notifications, naturally, were sent by email). The amount users will receive has not yet been set, according to an open letter from the lawyers leading the class-action suit, but could be as low as $10 – or even lower. However, “if the number of approved claims results in a payment amount of less than $10 [per person], LinkedIn will pay an additional amount up to $750,000 into the fund”, the lawyers add.
The “add connections” feature is one of the most infamous features of LinkedIn. The statement “I’d like to add you to my professional network” has become a recognised, and widely mocked, phrase. In September, New York-based designer Frank Chimero realised that the line works as a universal punchline to New Yorker-style editorial cartoons.
“Ultimately, we decided to resolve this case so that we can put our focus where it matters most: finding additional ways to improve our members’ experiences on LinkedIn. In doing so, we will continue to be guided by our core value – putting our Members First.”
This article was written by , for theguardian.com on Wednesday 7th October 2015 10.33 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010