Social network LinkedIn Corporation (LNKD) has been one of the biggest success in tech this year, more than doubling in value while becoming one of the fastest-growing players in the highly competitive business of social networking. But according to recent allegations, some of that growth might have come at the expense of ethics. If these allegations are found to be accurate, it could be the first significant blow to LinkedIn’s uninterrupted rise.
On Sept. 20 a coterie of LinkedIn customers sued the social media site, alleging that the social media company “mined” their email contact lists and sent unsolicited invitations to these people to join the site. The customers allege the company went into their personal email accounts to retrieve this information which, if true, would be an egregious and possibly illegal breach of privacy.
According to the plaintiffs, there are “hundreds of complaints” concerning this practice on LinkedIn’s site, insinuating that the class-action suit could grow exponentially.
This isn’t the first time the company has been in hot water over issues of customer privacy. In June 2012 the company had 6.5 million passwords stolen by a Russian hacker, who exploited the fact that LinkedIn did not “salt” their passwords, a relatively simple and standard security practice.
While that incident was not perpetrated by the company itself, the email mining allegations point to an ongoing pattern of recklessness concerning the personal information of users.
The company is still wildly profitable. While they have tempered outlook for the rest of 2013, LinkedIn has beaten analyst expectations the last nine straight quarters.
The stock was down 2.29 percent on the news of the lawsuit to hit $243.37 a share.
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