LinkedIn denies hacking users’ email accounts

A class-action lawsuit filed with the U.S. District Court in San Francisco claims LinkedIn exploits its users’ email addresses, which are used to log onto the site, to “hack into the user's external email account and extract email addresses.”

“If a LinkedIn user leaves an external email account open, LinkedIn pretends to be that user and downloads the email addresses contained anywhere in that account to LinkedIn's servers,” the complaint states.

The company then sends up to three emails to those addresses, encouraging recipients to sign up for LinkedIn, according to the legal complaint.

“Each of these reminder emails contains the LinkedIn member's name and likeness so as to appear that the LinkedIn member is endorsing LinkedIn.”

LinkedIn said it only sends email to a user’s contact list when granted permission to do so.

“We do give you the choice to share your email contacts, so you can connect on LinkedIn with other professionals that you know and trust,” the company said.