LinkedIn's "Add Connections" feature led users to send hundreds of spammy, intrusive emails. Now, the company will pay to settle a lawsuit.
The emails were annoying. They were embarrassing. And now LinkedIn has agreed to resolve a class action lawsuit for sending them in the first place—meaning you could be eligible for a small payment next year.
Under a proposed settlement published Friday, LinkedIn LNKD will pay $13 million as part of a deal to compensate users who signed up for its “Add Connections” feature between September, 2011 and October of 2014.
The feature in question gives permission to LinkedIn to scrape your email address book, and sent out multiple messages reminding recipients you want them to be part of your “personal network.” Such emails have since become fodder for ridicule on Twitter TWTR and elsewhere:
Users first sued LinkedIn in California 2013, claiming “Add Connections” violated their right of publicity and was an unfair business practice. In the class action complaint, users explained how they were frustrated or mortified that LinkedIn sent a barrage of emails on their behalf. It cited comments from LinkedIn users who believed “Add Connections” was hurting their professional reputation, not helping it. Others pointed out it was nearly impossible to stop LinkedIn from sending additional emails.
The company attempted to get the lawsuit thrown out of court, but U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh let most of the claims go forward. She noted in a 2014 ruling that “the second and third endorsement emails could injure users’ reputations by allowing contacts to think that the users are the types of people who spam their contacts.”
As a result, it appears LinkedIn chose to pay rather than fight on in court.
So how do you collect? If you used “Add Connections,” you can start by filing a claim on this website. The site calls for a claim number that was emailed to eligible LinkedIn users on Friday.
The amount you receive will depend on how other people file a claim. The settlement documents, which state the lawyers will receive up to $3,250,000 of the $13 million, also call for LinkedIn to add $750,000 to the fund if it appears individual payments will be below $10.
The settlement, which must be approved by Judge Koh, also calls for LinkedIn to better explain how “Add Connections” works and to make it easier for users to opt out of it. Meanwhile, a LinkedIn executive said in a recent blog post “we get it” and promised the company will send fewer emails.
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