LinkedIn is supposed to be a tool to help people network to get jobs, but a new lawsuit is accusing the website of actually harming users’ reputations. U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh of San Jose, California is allowing a lawsuit that alleges LinkedIn’s practice of one endorsement email on behalf of users to their external email contact list is okay–but that the two followup reminder emails that LinkedIn sends later on may not be.
The lawsuit alleges that the reminder emails, which are sent from external email accounts–as in, your gmail accounts and not your LinkedIn mail–don’t fall under the same consent as the original endorsement email that you agree to in the terms of service. (Phew–got all that?)
In her 39-page decision released late last week, Koh wrote that the practice “could injure users’ reputations by allowing contacts to think that the users are the types of people who spam their contacts or are unable to take the hint that their contacts do not want to join their LinkedIn network … by stating a mere three screens before the disclosure regarding the first invitation that ‘We will not … email anyone without your permission,’ LinkedIn may have actively led users astray.”
Koh believes that the practice may violate users’ right to publicity, in that their names and likenesses are being used for advertising purposes without their consent. The lawsuit seeks a class action status, a stop to the alleged improper email messages and monetary damages. And if it does reach class action status, that means you–yes, you–may be eligible for a piece of the pie. Stay tuned!