It’s Just Business, Nothing Personal

LinkedIn is “breaking into” user emails, spamming contacts – lawsuit

A class action lawsuit has been filed against Linked In for breaking into users’ accounts and taking contact information from their e-mail accounts to expand their user base.   They will send messages to these contacts and make it look like the user has invited them to join their network.  Users have complained about contacts that they do not know well getting messages or spam that they have not sent.

As it states in the article, “Users say the social network’s marketing practices have given rise to fear and embarrassment as a result of emails sent to business associates, ex-spouses and, in one instance, a mentally ill former contact.”

This relates to issues of privacy and ethics that we have discusses in class.  Websites may collect data for advertising purposes.  Many do not like this practice, but they are at least giving the user something in return: ads that are tailor-made for you an an individual.  But, in this case, the information collected does not benefit the user at all.  In fact, social relationships have been strained for the sake of Linked In expanding its own business.  This seems to go against the whole idea of “social” media and remind us that Linked In is a business after all.  If the purpose of Linked In is to create positive connections among people, even help people advance their careers, they cannot afford to alienate users in this way.   I think this is especially true for Linked In because it caters to business people.  A good reputation among colleagues probably even more important than among one’s  Friends on Facebook or other social network sites.

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