- Unrequested invites sent to contacts and strangers
- Users must manually withdraw invites to avoid restrictions
- LinkedIn claims user error responsible, not bug
LinkedIn users complaining about invites sent to ex-girlfriends and strangers had only themselves to blame, the social network said. A string of users had complained in LinkedIn’s support forums about unrequested invites allegedly sent from their accounts to complete undesirable contacts, often with embarrassing results.
One man claimed LinkedIn sent an invite from his account to an ex-girlfriend he broke up with 12 years ago who had moved state, changed her surname and her email address.
“My wife would like to know why I am suddenly linked to a girlfriend I broke up with 4 years before we met,” wrote Michael Caputo, a literary agent from Massachussetts, US, on LinkedIn’s support forum.
“This ex-girlfriend’s Linked in profile has exactly ONE contact, ME. My wife keeps getting messages asking ‘would you like to link to (her)? You have 1 contact in common!’”
LinkedIn never sent invites on behalf of users, a spokesperson for the company said. A user could either invite a person directly, select a contact from the “People You May Know” widget, or import contacts from their email address books, the spokesperson said.
“I consider it fraud,” wrote Megan Monroe, a psychotherapist from Kansas, US, who had received a request to connect from a person who claimed they hadn’t sent it. “LinkedIn sends me ‘invites’ saying it is from a particular person, when in actuality, the person has not heard of me and did not send the invite.”
Speculation on support forums suggested a bug in LinkedIn’s algorithm was responsible for sending unrequested invites without users’ knowledge. Two threads about unrequested invites ran to more than four pages in LinkedIn’s support forums.
Affected users inadvertently ran the risk of facing restrictions, claimed Charles Caro, a marketing executive from Florida, US. If five recipients clicked “I Don’t Know” or “Spam” on unrequested invites, that user’s account would be unable to send out invitations without the recipient’s email address, Caro said.
“You can, of course, appeal to have the restriction lifted by sending a sincere message to LinkedIn Customer Service explaining that you did not know what you were doing and that you will *never* again send out an invitation to someone you don’t know,” Caro said.
Each LinkedIn member was limited to 3,000 invitations which was supposed to last for the lifetime of the account, Caro added. The only way users could stop sending reminders for unrequested invites was to manually withdraw each pending invitation from LinkedIn’s messages folder.
Withdrawing the invites “should relieve some of the embarrassment associated with sending out the invitations,” Caro said.
Caro and LinkedIn moderators told users they were at fault for importing their address books without realising LinkedIn would invite all contacts on their behalf. But users complained they were also receiving “Accepted” connection emails from strangers that weren’t in their email lists.
“I did not even know the people plus they are not in my email list,” Alina Pak, sales manager at a Boston management school, wrote last week.
“Same problem here. And I’m adamant that I NEVER opened my address book,” said Lilyane Impalà-Lagarde, a PR manager in Switzerland. “Besides, the people that ‘accepted my invitation’ I’ve never heard of (and never had an email address to connect to). The only ‘link’ is LinkedIn’s page ‘people you may know’.”
“My father just notified me that he had no idea what LinkedIn was, and why I was asking him to join. I did not, at any time, ‘click’ his name or anything close to it,” wrote Travis Austin.
Several users complained that the unrequested invites had made them look unprofessional or had resulted in unwanted connections.
“There are even some [people] that I DO NOT EVEN WANT THAT I AM ON LINKEDIN and that I DO NOT WANT TO KNOW WHO I AM CONNECTED WITH on Linkedin!” said Raphaël Rippinger, a composer in Luxembourg. “I hate getting mails from an opponent’s lawyer that tell me I AM SPAMMING!”
“I am horrified to learn that LI has now ambushed my account and taken over my personal information and worse connected people on my behalf. I NEVER authorized LI to act in any capacity on my behalf. And now, the audacity of being scolded by LI functionaries is truly beyond anything I could ever have imagined,” wrote Susan Nickens, an education executive in Washington D.C., US.
LinkedIn had closed one of the earliest threads to comments on its forum. Angry users in that thread, started in February, were already threatening to leave the network.
“Happened to me, too. Totally unacceptable, now closing my account. Goodbye, Linkedin, R.I.P.” wrote Dag Stenvoll.