LinkedIn Accused of Hacking Email Addresses

LinkedIn has long been thought of as the professionals’ social media platform.

But a recent newspaper article offers grim reading for its millions of users.

According to the Independent LinkedIn has been accused of a ‘hack and spam’ attack on its members in a marketing tussle.

A law suit filed in California on behalf of four US-based users claims:

“…that LinkedIn “hacks” into users’ email accounts before harvesting email addresses and sending spam to their contacts, endorsing its products and services, without obtaining users’ consent or requesting a password.

The plaintiffs allege that the emails, designed to persuade recipients to sign up to LinkedIn, contain the Linkedln member’s name and likeness so it appears as if the member is endorsing the social network.”

LinkedIn is contesting the lawsuit and states that it takes personal security seriously and never sends out information on a user’s behalf unless given permission.

Care to connect?

All that aside, as a user of LinkedIn, I have noticed a recent increase in the number of invitations I receive to connect with complete strangers.

The whole idea of the platform is to make connections with people you know. What’s more, it clearly states that you should only accept invitations from people you know.

In light of the article in the Independent above, I did a bit of digging and found several unhappy LinkedIn users reporting receiving messages telling them they are now connected to people they didn’t know. Not only that, they didn’t send any connection requests. Plus one guy reported, after looking at his ‘requests sent’ tab, he discovered numerous invitations sent to people he didn’t know. Yes, it would appear as though the platform had sent them itself.

If you get a request to connect from someone you don’t know, or at least don’t think you know:

  • Go to your inbox
  • Click on the ‘invitations’ tab
  • Click on the arrow beside the ‘accept’ box

This gives you the option to reply without accepting their connection request. That means you can ask them how they know you before deciding whether to ignore the invite or not.

The only way to avoid unsolicited invitations is to go to your ‘Account and Settings’ preferences and set it to require an email address whenever someone sends you an invitation. If you don’t want to do that and definitely don’t want to accept the request, click the ‘Ignore’ and then the ‘I don’t know’ link. LinkedIn is then notified and the individual won’t be able to send you another invitation and, should they get 5 such reports, their account is restricted.

Of course, the best way to avoid all of that is to only send requests to people you know.


Author: Sally Ormond, Copywriter and MD at Briar Copywriting Ltd. Follow her on Twitter and Google+

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