Four LinkedIn users filed a class-action complaint in a San Jose, Calif., federal court last week, accusing the company of breaking into member email accounts
and uploading their address books.
The plaintiffs said that LinkedIn sends multiple emails endorsing its products, services and brand to potential new users whose email addresses LinkedIn "surreptitiously obtained" as part of its effort to acquire potential new users, according to the complaint. They also claimed that the professional social network sends additional emails to those email addresses when those users don't sign up for a LinkedIn account. LinkedIn has since denied the allegations.
Whether the lawsuit is successful, one thing is clear: LinkedIn makes it easy to invite everyone you know to connect, and hard to undo it.
When you sign up for an account on LinkedIn, the company prompts you to import email addresses from your personal email account in order to build up your network. You can also find the option by clicking "Network" and then "Add contacts" from the menu at the top if you're already a LinkedIn member. If you proceed, you might or might not be asked for your email's password, depending on whether you're already logged in elsewhere.
LinkedIn first generates a list of people from your address book that are already LinkedIn members. By default, the "Select All" option is checked, so if you proceed, everyone will be sent a message on your behalf asking them to connect with you.
The second step lists all the people in your email account's address book who aren't LinkedIn members. Once again, all names are automatically checked. If you proceed, LinkedIn will send them all emails to join the social network. If you don't want LinkedIn to send them all messages, you need to uncheck the "Select All" option or click "Skip this step."
How To Withdraw Invitations
If you have inadvertently sent invitations to connect with everyone in your email account's address book, you might still be able to rescind those invitations. To do this, the invitations must not be expired and your contact must not have already taken action on the invitation.
To rescind an invitation, click the Inbox icon (an image of an envelope) at the top right of your home page, then click "Sent" on the left. Choose the "Sent Invitations" tab under the top navigation bar and find an invitation without "Accepted" next to the name. Then, click the subject line of the invitation and click "Withdraw."
If the Withdraw button isn't there, the invitation cannot be withdrawn. Contacts whose invitations you withdraw will not be notified you have done so. You can always resend another invitation if you decide you want to connect with them later.
How To Remove Imported Contacts
If you have already uploaded your contacts from your email's address book to LinkedIn and want to remove this list of people from the social network, you can do so by clicking "Network" from the menu at the top and selecting "Contacts." Next, click "Imported Contacts."
If you want to remove all the contacts you have uploaded, make sure the "Select All" box is checked. If you only want to remove certain contacts, uncheck that box and choose the individuals you want to remove. Then, at the bottom of the page, click "Delete selected contacts." LinkedIn will confirm in a separate box that you want to delete the selected contacts.