LinkedIn sues hackers responsible for fake accounts

Will subpoena cloud services to identify perpetrators

LinkedIn, the world’s largest professional networking site, is under siege by aggressive software. The social media site said in a recently filed complaint that it’s combating automated software that copies information from legitimate profiles and uses it to populate dummy profiles. Given the importance of easy-to-navigate customer profiles, this is bad news for employers and jobseekers.

The complaint was filed in San Francisco, Calif., and accuses as-yet undiscovered hackers of engaging in fraudulent and malicious activity that violates the LinkedIn’s user agreement. The complaint also states that the activity undermines the value of the fee-based “LinkedIn Recruiter” service designed to connect candidates to Fortune 100 companies. Fake candidates mean wasted time for busy corporate hiring teams.

The suit asks for an undisclosed amount in damages and requests that the practices of setting up dummy accounts to view member profiles and disrupt legitimate business ventures be barred.

“It undermines the integrity and effectiveness of LinkedIn’s professional network by polluting it with thousands of fake member profiles,” Jonathan Blavin, a lawyer for the company, said in the complaint.

Bloomberg reports that LinkedIn intends to find the hackers through investigation of the cloud computing platform used to set up the accounts. The most frequently used platform was Amazon Web Services, and while Amazon was not named as a defendant, LinkedIn will ask permission to peruse its records to determine who the guilty parties are.

Other tech giants have faced similar issues in recent months. During the lead up to Twitter’s IPO, the company said that fake and malicious accounts were a potentially damaging factor that could “hurt our reputation for delivering relevant content or reduce user growth and user engagement and result in continuing operational cost to us.”

Fake Twitter accounts are said to make up as much as 5 percent of monthly active uses.

 

Check out this InsideCounsel coverage on other technology law developments:

Hotel chain says FTC has no right to police its data security methods

Facebook served with complaint for message-scanning tactics

Technology: Preparing for the new year with cloud computing issues to watch in 2014

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