LinkedIn users are used to getting way too many LinkedIn emails, but they received one tonight that was much different than usual: LinkedIn was announcing that it had agreed to settle a class-action lawsuit over sending unwanted emails. The lawsuit revolves around LinkedIn's Add Connections feature, which would send out connection requests to people in a user's contact list who did not already have a LinkedIn account. Users had to agree to send out that first connection request, but LinkedIn would then follow up with up to two more "reminder emails" if there was no response. The lawsuit alleges that users did not consent to LinkedIn sending those additional emails, nor give LinkedIn permission to use their names and images in them.
It'll pay out $13 million and let users cancel reminder emails
LinkedIn denies all wrongdoing. Nonetheless, it has agreed to a settlement that'll have it paying at least $13 million into a fund to make payments to LinkedIn users who qualify for the suit. In general, those people will have had accounts on LinkedIn between September 2011 and October 2014 and sent emails through the Add Connections feature. Additionally, LinkedIn will change the disclosures on its website to mention the additional reminder emails. It will also add a feature by year's end that'll allow users to cancel the reminder emails from being sent.
In a statement provided to Business Insider, LinkedIn tries to make it sound like literally nothing is even happening:
While it's true that the court didn't see any issues with the initial emails sent out through LinkedIn's Add Connections feature, it actually found that users may have been harmed by the second and third emails. That's probably why LinkedIn has decided to go ahead and pay out $13 million in a settlement. The settlement must still be approved in court; information for LinkedIn users can be found at a settlement website. Either way it goes, this is still some amount of vindication for the ubiquitous complaint that LinkedIn sends way, way, way too many unwanted emails.
The core of the email LinkedIn is sending out is reprinted below. All emphasis is from LinkedIn:
NOTICE OF PENDING CLASS ACTION AND NOTICE OF PROPOSED SETTLEMENTPERKINS V. LINKEDIN CORP.
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.