11 min read

LinkedIn spams all of my Gmail contacts

**UPDATE2 **I finally got a response on Thu, Oct 27, 2011 at 7:24 AM, it said, “I would first like to apologize for the delay in responding to your inquiry. This is certainly not the customary wait time for a reply from LinkedIn Customer Support. We have been experiencing higher than expected volumes, and your patience is greatly appreciated.” So, they’ve been so busy that it took 2 1/2 weeks to get back to me? Still, they haven’t answered my questions, one what happened and two, who did they email on my behalf? I need a list. Stay tuned.

**UPDATE **today is October 17, 2011, so it’s been a week since I’ve reported my problem, and I have not gotten anything back from LinkedIn support. Pathetic.

Today is October 12, 2011, so first off, if you have recently recieved a LinkedIn request from me; I apologize for this. I used the “See Who You Already Know on LinkedIn” (they claim to be able to pull contacts from over 39 providers) on LinkedIn to find new people to connect with in Gmail contact list.  It found over 400 of them, so I chose a few of them to email, and** it emailed ALL OF THEM and more**. This included people I’m already linked in to, technology related mailing lists that I’m on, email alaises for my domain (?) and **deceased relatives**…it’s really a disaster. Oh, I’ve gotten** 5 requests FROM MYSELF to connect**, and it even posted on my blog, via the DISQUS comment system, as me, but only to one old post. Plus today it sent a followup, presumably to everyone it emailed the other day, and was nice enough to update the thread on my site, reminding me of the contact request. My support requests to LinkedIn haven’t been answered and it’s been almost 36 hours, my support history looks like this:

“My LinkedIn support history, to which I did get a reply…an Auto-response. “Thanks for contacting us and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible.” (10/10/2011 09:56 )

In short, I’m very sorry for the trouble and am doing everything I can to fix it.

_Original Article starts here

Look, I’ve been on LinkedIn since about ~2003, after being hipped to it by a co-worker at the time, and have dug its social networking focusing on business aspect in getting back in touch with old co-workers, but as it’s evolved and grown over the years, some things about it have become a bit too much for me. Regardless, I’ve stuck with it since I’ve been on it so long, and find it a nice ‘set and forget’ style of social networking that doesn’t require a lot of maintenance. I created a ‘group’ early on, since there weren’t any representing EFF (Electronic Frontier Foundation), and after a few years we’re now at 1200+ users generating some interesting discussion (by the way, if you’re on LinkedIn and want to join the group, check it out here). It’s an unofficial, official list, as I’ve talked to EFF and they’re happy with me, simply a long-time member and supporter, running things, and I’ve made it clear to them if they ever want to take it over that I will give them control and step down.

Now, today is Oct 14, 10AM CST, and my ‘Support’ History looks exactly the same; my desperate JANE! STOP THIS CRAZY THING! emails, I have not received any replies to tickets. This is very disappointing. Ok, so let me list out some more details of what’s been going on, as far as LinkedIn spamming all of my Gmail contacts.

Some examples

  • As soon as I checked off the people I wanted to connect with and hit ‘Next’, I started getting Out of Office replies from many different email addresses. I noticed some of these were people that I had unchecked on the previous page so they wouldn’t recieve any email from me, but some from people that were not on the previous page! At that point, I realized something had gone terribly wrong.
  • Next came updates from technical mailing lists I subscribe to. Now obviously I wouldn’t want to send a LinkedIn request to a mailing list, but apparently I did, and it’s gotta be the most embarrassing thing in this whole debacle; technical folks emailing me, “I think you have a virus”. Thankfully, the better configured mailing list software refused my requests with something similar to the following, but the point is, mailing lists were not on the pages that I went through to uncheck people, because I would have unchecked any mailing lists!

I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn. The command “I’d” is invalid. Use the “help topics” command to see a list of valid commands.

Stopping at signature separator.  No more commands will be processed. Valid commands processed: 0 0 succeeded, 0 stalled, and 0 failed.

The command "” is invalid. Use the “help topics” command to see a list of valid commands. Discarded 17 line(s) of unrecognized text.

  • Next up are people I’m already LinkedIn to, some of the received three (3) emails from me to connect with them…again, these are people I was already LinkedIn with!
  • I got emails to email alaises I have setup for my domains, some of them 10 years old. So emails to email aliases like admin@, sysadmin@, abuse@, hello@, etc. Really? They harvested that much from my account to email even aliases of my own domains? Unreal.


  • I really enjoyed getting my own requests, I got 5 or 6 of them, they were mainly from the email aliases, but a few came to real email addresses of mine. I followed the link to try and accept my request, but LinkedIn told me “You can’t connect with yourself”  0_o  Thanks, wish you thought of that before you spammed me!
  • Then the one where I knew I had unchecked the person, because that person was deceased, which I mentioned to my wife at the time. Not only did I get the email bounce back because that account is no longer valid, but also a reply from his employeer with the, “Sorry, to tell you that he passed … due to health problems.” Ugh!
  • Then, a really curious one,** the request showed up on fak3r.com, this site, as a comment to one of my posts, posted by me (!)** via my DISQUS account! The comment didn’t show up on my most recent post, or all of my posts, but just one posted on September 13, 2006! So now I have not only spammed tons of people, but I spammed my own site, and makes me wonder, did I post to other sites via my DISQUS account? Oh, and then nicely a few days later when I got another round of emails ‘reminding’ me that I wanted to be a connection, it updated itself on the same comment thread. Time to change some passwords, eh?

So while this was going on, I searched online to make sure I wasn’t the only one that has gotten this treatment, and ya, I’m in good company, so that makes me feel better.

Meh, at least I have company

Last month SOURCE:

I unintentionally had Linkedin send invitations to all my email contacts, including my 11 year old granddaughter~Yikes! It’s bad enough I bothered them once, but several people have told me they’ve gotten multiple requests from me to join Linkedin. PLEASE STOP THAT REPETITION!!!!

Late last year SOURCE:

Same thing here.  Linkedin says that their proprietary search method guesses who would be a possible contact, but I have no contacts/connections on Linkedin at all and the only place I have the contact info for the people it is suggesting is in my gmail contacts list.

I have never knowingly given Linkedin permission to import my contacts or anything so I’m fairly upset that somehow they have my gmail contact list information.

Three years ago SOURCE:

Why does LinkedIn think it’s OK to trick me into spamming my entire Gmail address book?

Then some consumer advocacy sites SOURCE:

LinkedIn customer service is ranked #408 out of the 463 companies that have a CustomerServiceScoreboard.com rating with an overall score of 22.92 out of a possible 200 based upon 269 ratings. This score rates LinkedIn customer service and customer support as Terrible.

Feedback on this Contact Help page shows a ton of negative comments about LinkedIn’s lack of support, but this one is especially scary SOURCE:

I was doing investigative research for a couple of years, while also working with sexual assault victims. Due to a severe breach of privacy, LinkedIn mined my supposed personal data and connected me to 173 people; albeit, invited by me to join my account. These included perpetrators, victims, other security personal, etc. I was able to shut down my account the next day, however, I was exposed and the damage was already done. The need for more stringent and urgent oversight of these networking groups is imperative. This situation not only injured and exposed me, but others whose need to remain private and safe was absolute. Shame on LinkedIn.

In a Gmail support forum SOURCE:

Help! LinkedIn has been harrassing all my gmail contacts invites to join my network. How do I stop these emails?

So I am on the LinkedIn professional networking site and I allowed the program access to my gmail account (silly me). Now I get an email a day from someone asking me to stop sending them invitatations. This is awful, LinkedIn is basically harrassing everyone on my website and I want to halt all emails from LinkedIn via gmail. How do I do this???

REPLY: LinkedIn is using its own services to send out the invitations, and putting your email address as the sender. As a result, it’s a setting in LinkedIn that you have to disable.And judging by the answer linked below, it’s a long, tedious process.

and as recently as last month SOURCE:

LinkedIn recently accessed my Gmail account & sent all my Gmail contacts invites to their site.  It took 36 hours for LinkedIn to fix this.  Is there something I could have done on my own to fix this?

[…] somewhere during the signup you provided your e-mail address and somehow allowed them access to your account.  That’s how they were able to harvest your contacts.  My first guess is that Linkedln will be listed here: Settings -> Accounts and Import -> Change Account Settings -> Other Google account settings -> Authorizing applications & sites -> Edit

So, I try and fix this myself…

As suggested above, I went into my Google Account and tried to turn off access I may have granted LinkedIn. You basically hit your Settings, then

Connected Sites -> Apps and Services

And check what it lists under

Authorized Access to your Google Account

Unfortunately LinkedIn was not listed there, so I went back to LinkedIn to try and turn things off on that end.

And then, an interesting discovery…

Back on LinkedIn I followed this page:

Your name -> Settings -> Groups, Companies & Applications > Privacy Controls

Where I got to these promising links:

If you’re signed in to LinkedIn when you view any page that uses our professional plugins, we receive information that you’ve visited that page. This allows us to improve your LinkedIn experience and provide you with insights from your professional network, like how many of your connections have shared an article into LinkedIn using the Share on LinkedIn plugin.

Yes, allow LinkedIn to receive information about my visits to pages that use LinkedIn plugins.

Wait, did that say, **If you’re signed in to LinkedIn when you view any page that uses our professional plugins, we receive information that you’ve visited that page.  **Has this been discussed before, because I’m pretty sure it’s what Facebook just got dinged for recently! [link1] [link2] [link3] Maybe this should be given more exposure, but in the end, nothing on that page, or any other that I found on LinkedIn, would allow me to turn off invitation requests, and they’re equally annoying reminder emails.

The end?

So in the end, I did find a help page on LinkedIn that teased me with:

If you want to prevent any additional reminders from being sent, you can withdraw the Invitation.

But of course that link just led me to the (now familiar) support contact page, where I submitted my request…two days ago.


As of now, nothing from anyone at LinkedIn, but plenty of discussion from me on Twitter talking about it, where I’ve been tagging @linkedin and #linkedin on all my tweets to see if anyone is paying attention over there. Apparently, they are not. More news as things develops, and extra credit for reading all the way to the bottom. Applesauce.