LinkedIn — professional social network and useless email generator — just settled a class-action lawsuit...for sending too many emails.
In May, LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner told BuzzFeed News that "there are certain members to whom we're sending too much email," in a live interview with San Francisco Bureau Chief Mat Honan. Now the company will be taken to task for it.
Late Friday, the company contacted those on the service who "may have used LinkedIn's Add Connections feature between September 17, 2011, and October 31, 2014," to notify them that a class-action lawsuit had been filed against the company.
Essentially, LinkedIn's "Add Connections" feature was a quick way to connect with the people in a contact list — a one-click method to notify everyone that you had joined the service. However, LinkedIn used access to users' contact lists to send two "reminder" emails, which a court found had been sent without the users' consent. Those additional emails are the focus of the lawsuit, and why LinkedIn will now pay out.
LinkedIn acknowledged no wrongdoing but opted to settle the lawsuit. It will pay $13 million into a fund for payments to plaintiffs.
Here's the email LinkedIn sent Friday:
You are receiving this e-mail because you may have used LinkedIn's Add Connections feature between September 17, 2011 and October 31, 2014.
A federal court authorized this Notice. This is not a solicitation from a lawyer.
Why did I get this notice? This Notice relates to a proposed settlement ("Settlement") of a class action lawsuit ("Action") against LinkedIn Corporation ("LinkedIn") based on LinkedIn's alleged improper use of a service called "Add Connections" to grow its member base.
What is the Action about? The Action challenges LinkedIn's use of a service called Add Connections to grow its member base. Add Connections allows LinkedIn members to import contacts from their external email accounts and email connection invitations to one or more of those contacts inviting them to connect on LinkedIn. If a connection invitation is not accepted within a certain period of time, up to two "reminder emails" are sent reminding the recipient that the connection invitation is pending. The Court found that members consented to importing their contacts and sending the connection invitation, but did not find that members consented to LinkedIn sending the two reminder emails. The Plaintiffs contend that LinkedIn members did not consent to the use of their names and likenesses in those reminder emails. LinkedIn denies these allegations and any and all wrongdoing or liability. No court or other entity has made a judgment or other determination of any liability.
What relief does the Settlement provide? LinkedIn has revised disclosures, clarifying that up to two reminders are sent for each connection invitation so members can make fully-informed decisions before sending a connection invitation. In addition, by the end of 2015, LinkedIn will implement new functionality allowing members to stop reminders from being sent by canceling the connection invitation. LinkedIn has also agreed to pay $13 million into a fund that can be used, in part, to make payments to members of the Settlement Class who file approved claims. Attorneys representing the Settlement Class will petition the Court for payment of the following from the fund: (1) reasonable attorneys' fees, expenses, and costs up to a maximum of $3,250,000, and (2) service awards for the Plaintiffs up to a maximum of $1,500 each. The payment amount for members of the Settlement Class who file approved claims will be calculated on a pro rata basis, which means that it will depend on the total number of approved claims. If the number of approved claims results in a payment amount of less than $10, LinkedIn will pay an additional amount up to $750,000 into the fund. If the pro rata amount is so small that it cannot be distributed in a way that is economically feasible, payments will be made, instead, to Cy Pres Recipients selected by the Parties and approved by the Court. No one knows in advance whether or in what amount payments will be made to claimants.