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back to article LinkedIn fires back against 'hack-and-spam' US class-action sue bomb

LinkedIn senior director of litigation had to work over the weekend after a class action lawsuit was filed alleging the firm "hacks" into members email address-books before spamming out marketing emails. The class action – filed in the US, in the Northern District Court of California (PDF, via Bloomberg) on behalf of four US- …

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Anonymous Coward

Ok....

...I have to side with LinkedIn on this one, if you don't click the option to trawl your email account for address, then you don't get the issue. It's not even hidden away in some obscure T&C's where you have to untick a box, it's a bloody great big option, that you have to Say yes, please access my email account / Facebook / whatever to connect to others by getting their email accounts.

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Re: Ok....

There is something wrong with people giving their contacts away willingly. I wish someone would hack LinkedIn, FB and the like and create a blacklist of people who agreed to this option, now that would be an anti-social network I would be a part of (as an anonymous client naturally).

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Re: Ok....

I'm against Linkedin. I have never ever ticked the box to allow them access to the email addresses I use..for spam mainly and chat. I used my work address to join up, but they ask if I'd like to connect with people in my hotmail and yahoo email accounts..which I've never told them I have.

It's pointless, there's nobody there I would like to "connect" to in a work environment in my hotmail and yahoo accounts. But still they appear on my "people you may know" sidebar.

What's more, they appear with full names and workplaces, where before I only knew them by nicknames and email addresses. For instance, I signed up to a dating site a few years back through my spam hotmail account...which linkedin shouldn't even know I have if it wasn't spying. Girls who I chatted with through hotmail are appearing on linkedin with full names and places of work. So a person I exchanged a few emails with..not even in my adress book.. brighteyes from brighteyes@hotmail.co.uk is now Mary Smith, secretary at Acme Processing, High Street, Crawley (made up details). It's a serious security flaw, and a stalkers dream

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Funnily enough this may have merit

LinkedIn does not explicitly specify that it will send an invite to all of your contacts once it harvests them. If the invite is to be considered an unsolicited marketing communication on behalf of LinkedIn (it walks like one, it talks like one, it is probably one), then this falls foul of a whole raft of existing statutes related to unsolicited marketing (via email or otherwise).

Now how stupid you have to be to give your addressbook to the result of the breeding programme between admen and recruiters... That is an entirely different story...

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Never sends...

Yeah, right...

None of the people who sent me a LinkedIn invite ever admitted to doing so. Most wouldn't even admit to having an account...

It's not even effing possible to get LinkedIn to stop sending you these messages without creating an account.

Not even FarceBook is that hopeless...

At least that's how it was, the last time I got an email from them last year. Then I added a filter that deletes ALL mails containing LinkedIn in the subject or sender.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Never sends...

It's not even effing possible to get LinkedIn to stop sending you these messages without creating an account.

Actually if you register for an account and click several times on "I don't want to receive e-mails from Linkedin", "Yes, I'm sure", "Yes, I'm ABSOLUTELY SURE", etc...... you keep receiving e-mails like "Ferbnal Grophund wants you to join his network".

I'm a teacher. Several of my students (some of them are actually named "Ferbnal Grophund", at least by me) think I want to join their network. God, I wish I didn't even had to see them in person!

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Joke

Re: Never sends...

Hey - Ferbnal Grophund is a good guy. We go way back - played on the same teams in school and everything. I don't see why you've got to drag ol' Ferb into this. Sheesh!

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Vic
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Re: Never sends...

> None of the people who sent me a LinkedIn invite ever admitted to doing so

Bear in mind that there is a lot of phishing spam *claiming* to be from LinkedIn, but actually not.

They do seem to prefer email addresses with "linkedin" in them - although I get some to other accounts as well.

It's always worth checking the headers...

Vic.

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Linux

Social Media Websites et al

I am endlessly amazed at our culture, feeding on social media websites which eventually arrive at a point of critical mass and once reached "you are pwned".

We have seen this time and time and time again and yet the unwashed masses continue to feed.......

Why the penguin -------->

It is the only icon that looks vaguely like a lemming.

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Headmaster

Re: Social Media Websites et al

"It is the only icon that looks vaguely like a lemming."

Lemmings+cliffs=Disneyfication

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Wrong Approach

Having been on the receiving end of what I consider to be LinkedIn spam caused by someone giving them access to their email contact list, I've always avoided ever letting them know anything about my contact list. I was a relatively late adopter of LinkedIn precisely because of the automatic messages it used to send me.

They should modify the approach a bit, and make it a two-stage process. The first would be to send invites to those who are already known to LinkedIn based on matching addresses to known accounts, but then there should be a positive prompt to ask which of the rest of the contacts you'd like to invite to join LinkedIn. That way you do at least knowingly spam your contact list.

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Who hasn't had,,,,,,

....pointless emails, apparently from friends one hasn't spoke to in years, announcing that they've joined LinkedIn.

Like I care ?

I guess LinkedIn don't realise that recipients of such mails take it as a warning to stay off LinkedIn or risk irritating everyone they know.

My message to all such nincompoops -- just because the technology facilitates it doesn't mean you have to do it.

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Anonymous Coward

ambulance chasers

I'm a Linkedin user - I'm continually asked to 'share' my address book to which I have obviously pressed the 'No thanks' button (while muttering 'fuck-you)'. But the article talks about hacking my email account without my password. If this is true, I'm sure Google (gmail), the FBI, the Police, the Sweeney, Bodie and Doyle will be very interested to know about this as well. The NSA/GCHQ will be asking Linkedin for how-to tips and tutorials.

Sound like ambulance chasers to me.

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WTF?

I am very confused ...

When I first signed up for my hotmail account (back in 1995), it was made crystal clear to me in the T&Cs (as I recall them) that under no circumstances was I to share my password with anyone.

So what has changed that people are now allowed to give their precious login details to these sites ?

Does anyone recall that story from a few years back where a guy was jailed because he signed up to Facebook, gave FB his hotmail login, and FB proceeded to spam his address book including his ex-wife who had an injunction against him. Judge was unimpressed with his claims of innocence and basically said "you're a dick for giving your hotmail password to Facebook" ?

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Anonymous Coward

While I not stupid enough to hand over my email address and password to LinkedIn several people here at work have done so after being "inspired" by a recent "networking" course. From what I gather it harvests all the email addresses it can grab from your email account (which, after all, they have been invited to do by being given the login details) and then presents them to you as a list and gives you the opportunity to deselect any that you don't want it to use .... some people here were caught out by carefully removing the relevant email addresses but failing to spot the "page 1 of 20" at the bottom!.

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morons

if your stupid and gullable enough to give any social site your real details and your contacts then you deserve everything they throw at you. you know that all these sites want is lists of like minded twats so they can get bigger and then sell the whole thing off for lots of wonga.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: morons @jellypapa

Nice spelling and use of capitals, genius :|

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Headmaster

Re: morons @jellypapa

Also, "your" instead of "you're" is another sign of genius :-)

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Re: morons

"gullable" - does this mean that they can easily take wing, or are prone to shit on your head from a height?

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Re: morons @jellypapa

A real 'looser'?

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Headmaster

Re: morons

*like-minded

Hyphenation is the difference between a light blue wall (weight) and a light-blue wall (colour).

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Re: morons @jellypapa

ha ha you lot make me larf, instead of acting against those that violate your privacy, you all jump up and down waving your undie panties about a fphew sellin and kfammar misteaks...

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Apparently Facebook asks for access to your address book and then not only sends out invites to everybody, but begins compiling shadow dossiers on them based on what other address books they're found in, public uses of their email addresses, etc. So you don't even have to sign up to have your privacy invaded.

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Megaphone

Second: facebook behave in the same way

I clicked "find friends" thinking this was a search dialogue that would let me message someone I wanted to get hold of, tab, return, tab, return, passwords etc (stupid, but I was in a hurry) and the asstards had harvested my email contacts.

Ensue embarrasing spamathon of business contacts, yea even knights and dames no less, to announce that I had uploaded photos they would like to see. Horrified. Also very surprised at how many of them opened an account apparently just to see the aformentioned photos of my lunch, cats.

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Big Brother

I noticed this years ago ...

Facebook has now built up a very detailed picture of people who *aren't* on Facebook, simply by dint of cross-referencing the address books of everyone who *is* on Facebook.

Since there's fuck all I can do about it, it's just ticking over at 1/10 on the worry-o-meter, but it's interesting to speculate what they can do with this information. The most straightforward being to serve up a list of social-networking refuseniks to any future administration who decide that people who aren't on Facebook have something to hide. But it could go way deeper than that.

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Black Helicopters

Not only does Facebook "invade the privacy of those who don't even sign up", it will even target your pets and newborn babies.

Apparently, they use hacking software they originally developed for the NSA. Once they know your email address, it doesn't take long for them to retrieve your national insurance / social security number.

From there, they know everything about you, including your last sexual encounter, and even the size of your manhood... Ever thought Facebook was laughing at you? Now you know why.

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Tin foil hat Icon required

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Re: I noticed this years ago ...

I don't see how this can worry people who regularly shop in big stores.

Some folks will happily nod at Clubcard vouchers while decrying Facebook.

Happy to be led by shops running profiling while telling all that Facebook is evil.

I mean, shit, even Facebook doesn't have your credit card details (does it?).

Oh, and Linkedin is filtered on my email, I don't see any more requests.

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[citation needed]

please

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Vic
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Re: I noticed this years ago ...

> Some folks will happily nod at Clubcard vouchers while decrying Facebook.

The difference is that you can withhold your "loyalty card" if you so choose...

Vic.

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Coat

Colour Me Curious

LinkedIn 'grows your contacts' by mailing people that you already know...

By what stretch of credulaty is that networking ?

I'll get my coat, it's got the business cards in the pocket.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Colour Me Curious

Once it knows your friends that are on it's books, it can then offer to introduce you to the people who know your friends without you having to go through the "Dave, do you know anyone who does websites?" part.

Oh, did I mention you will need to sign up to the premium service though......but I'm sure it's a bargain (or so they tell me).

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Phishing

To me it's pretty close to fishing. For the non-technical user it looks like this:

-----

Quickly grow your professional network

[Textbox with my email address pre-filled]

A Continue button

Looks clever, so you click on it and there's some words, but the Next button is all that matters for these things isn't it?

And woops! LinkedIn has just kindly spammed your entire address book with 'invitations'.

------

In the past two weeks three friends/acquaintances have been caught out.

For me, there is no way that I would ever ever consider entrusting my email account to a third party. But if you consider that quite a lot of people could have the same password for LinkedIn and their email, they could quite conceivably think that they are logging in to LinkedIn. I mean why would LinkedIn want you to login to your email?!

So, the court case will probably go nowhere, but for me, this is about the same level of suckitude as the Ask toolbar in Java...

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Sharing contact lists in this mannor should be against DPA laws

Why isn't this sort of thing illegal under DPA laws? Your contacts should not be allowed to upload their entire address book to social sites and social sites should not be allowed to ask for access to your email account full stop.

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Holmes

Re: Sharing contact lists in this mannor should be against DPA laws

Hmm, true, people have a "duty of care" to protect those in their email contacts.

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Re: Sharing contact lists in this mannor should be against DPA laws

Wouldn't this be somewhat like Yahoo mail and Outlook mail wanting to consolidate you inbox on the site with your other email accounts? Could even be part of setting up an Android device email. Who's to say the account credentials are only stored on the device and not uploaded to Google?

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LinkedIn seems to harvest people on CC lists too

Never used LinkedIn, probably never will, but I got the "Invitation to connect on LinkedIn" email but didn't recognise the persons name. Hovered over the "Confirm you know this bozo" button expecting to see http://419scam.ng/givemeyourdetails.html or similar, but it was https://www.linkedin.com/blahblahblah. A quick shout round the office confirms the fact that I don't know this bod, I was CC'd on an email to him previously. Maybe he just adds everyone to his 'contacts' or his mail client does that for him. At least there was link to 'Unsubscribe from reminders'. I haven't heard from them since.

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Stop

There are settings in LinkedIn to prevent this

But it is rather annoying that sites like LinkedIn always want to trawl through my email contacts to promote their services.

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Pint

The shame is everlasting

A few acquaintances cleverly spammed everyone in their FB friends list by ticking the idiot box on Linkedin. The ensuing shitstorms convinced them that it was probably best to PTFA when blundering around on a cheesy contact site's account settings. One of them had about 500 angry fans and followers kvetching at her in "reply to all" mode. The other 4500 probably ticked the "leave convo" box and went back to their cake and kittens.

The reference thing on Linkedin is another sucky feature with potential for infinite mischief.

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DJ
Pint

Take LinkedIn, please!

Perhaps someone could be kind enough to describe the process required to successfully extricate one's self from LinkedIn?

It's for my friend, honest.

Ok, ok. I was young! I needed the money!

Raising a pint to the kind soul that emancipates me...

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I haven't seen any spam (or other pointless tripe) from LinkedIn for a while now.

But perhaps it was the fact I cancelled my account with them that finally made the difference... I mean, nothing else did.

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FAIL

Ridiculous corporate officer title

Any business that needs a "senior director of litigation" is doing something wrong...

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It's not just the addressbook harvesting.

LinkedIn then unrelentingly SPAM their victims until they respond.

Some years ago the only way to stop the "notification" mails was to setup your own LinkedIn account and set it to NoMail. Even if you succumb to the temptation to go to their website and set notifications off they'll still trickle in.

LinkedIn reps have shown up on several spamfighting lists and have usually departed quickly when the level of anger over their practices becomes apparent.

There's a very special pit in Hades reserved for the LinkedIn execs.

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