LinkedIn is still trying to send me email despite years of rejections

July 4, 2017

Back in 2014 I wrote about LinkedIn sending me invitation spam emails and how they wanted me to agree to their terms of service (and join LinkedIn) in order to 'unsubscribe' from them. Of course I didn't do that; instead, as usual, I arranged to have all future email from LinkedIn to me to be rejected during the SMTP conversation on our external MX gateway (using one of our anti-spam features). Then I put the whole thing out of my mind.

You can probably guess what has happened since then. It's now closing in on three years that I've been rejecting all such LinkedIn email, and LinkedIn still attempts to send me some every so often on a semi-regular basis. I have no idea what's actually in the email, since the external MX gateway rejects it at RCPT TO time (and LinkedIn uses completely anonymous MAIL FROM addresses), but I suspect that it's more invitations.

Persistently sending email to addresses that fail at RCPT TO time makes LinkedIn's behavior functionally indistinguishable from spammers. Spammers ignore RCPT TO and other mail failures; so does LinkedIn. Spammers will send to dead addresses for years. LinkedIn? Check. I am sure that LinkedIn will claim that it has good reasons for its behavior, and perhaps it will even allege that it is merely doing the will of its users. It doesn't really matter. When you walk like a duck and quack like a duck, people who don't want ducks don't really care what you actually are (cf).

I believe that LinkedIn's behavior is illegal in Canada under our anti-spam legislation. I was going to say that this exposes LinkedIn to potential legal risks now that it's 2017 and the legislation is fully in force, but it turns out that the government suspended the right of private action recently. Since Canada is a loser-pays country for civil lawsuits, suing LinkedIn over this would always be risky, but now only the government can take them to court and I don't think that that's very likely.

(On the other hand, according to the website the government apparently has taken action against some big Canadian corporations over their spam, oops, 'marketing email'. So who knows.)

PS: These days there appears to be a LinkedIn unsubscribe page that doesn't immediately demand that you log in to LinkedIn. I haven't tried it; to put it one way, I don't particularly believe that leopards actually change their spots. I have no trust for LinkedIn at this point and thus no desire to actively provide them with any email addresses.

Written on 04 July 2017.
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Last modified: Tue Jul 4 00:22:52 2017
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