It seems that in recent times there has been an inflation in lawsuits and class actions against social networks. Facebook, Instagram, TikTok and now LinkedIn are all on trial, each in its own unique circumstances.
A veteran of the platform probably remembers the company's obscene practice, in which it would enter users' inboxes and send invitations to all their contacts on their behalf, so that they would join their friends who are already on LinkedIn.
In this case, a class action was filed against LinkedIn in Israel back in 2013, and after approval of the request as part of a settlement approved last October, it was forced to set aside NIS 3.5 million for its class action fund, which was designed precisely for such situations, because of invasion of privacy and prohibited advertising.
This time, the lawsuit and the request to conduct the lawsuit as a class action were filed due to a violation of the Israeli Consumer Protection Law. The plaintiffs, Reut Levy and Nitzan Yaakobi, filed the lawsuit and the request to conduct it as a class action through attorney Shalom Even to the Central District Court.
The power of default
According to the prosecution, the two plaintiffs at different times asked to try LinkedIn's premium subscription, which was offered for a month for free, and at the end of the month discovered to their surprise that the subscription had not been terminated and that they were charged NIS 249 and NIS 209. Since on the day the account is opened, the user is obligated to provide credit details, the network also has the user's credit card details in advance, but, according to the lawsuit, this detail does not grant it permission to collect money from that card.
According to the plaintiffs, and contrary to the Consumer Protection Law, LinkedIn's default was to extend the subscription automatically unless towards the end of the period the user announced that he did not want to continue, but the law states that the default in such transactions is supposed to be the opposite, and to extend only if the user gave an explicit instruction to do so.
But if you thought this was where the allegations ended, you're wrong. In addition to the improper default, the lawsuit states that LinkedIn did not allow them to cancel the transaction, except for the seven days following the auto-renewal date, until the end of the period for which the subscription was paid. In this way, LinkedIn actually gets rich at the expense of users.
When the plaintiffs signed up for the premium subscription for a "free trial," they both had the impression that at the end of the period the subscription would be automatically terminated, according to the lawsuit. They also claim that even when they asked to cancel the subscription, they found out that they would have to pay an additional month since they applied 7 days after collecting the money. This conduct constitutes a violation of a number of legal provisions, including serious misleading on the part of the plaintiffs and other users who contracted with it for the purpose of purchasing a premium service.
Why is this important?
LinkedIn is a network whose main service is creating a professional profile through which you can establish business and social relationships with other users of the network, and it is now considered a non-B in the business world for anyone interested in finding work, offering jobs, raising capital or marketing to business customers.
As of 2022, LinkedIn has about 2.35 million users in Israel, and that number is only growing.
The basic profile is given to users for free, but later on you can purchase ancillary services that will give the user advantages over other users. It turns out that the company's frequent offers, in which you can get a month trial of the premium services for free, are a honey trap for unsuspecting users, who can easily fall into the trap and continue to pay for the premium services after the trial period, even without intending to do so.
As a result, the plaintiffs are asking the court to conduct the lawsuit as a class action in which the two represented all users of the platform who purchased a premium subscription from LinkedIn and were harmed by this activity.
As part of the lawsuit, they seek to return the funds to each member of the group and compensate them, as well as instruct LinkedIn to change the default so that those who try a premium subscription will not have to ask not to continue the subscription, and it will expire at the end of 30 days unless the user explicitly requests to extend it.
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We're probably not suckers
If, at the beginning of the digital age, users accepted such defaults as a given situation about which there is nothing to be done, today consumers are increasingly understanding that there are things that should not be accepted, even if they are huge corporations.
If it were just one case, you would think it was a reduction, after all, what is $240 compared to the costs of a lawsuit against a huge company like LinkedIn? But when you look at the number of users who suffered from the same problem and quietly absorbed the loss, the cumulative amount is astronomical. Class actions, designed precisely for such situations, give the small citizen the power needed to combat such successful practices and ensure that giant corporations like LinkedIn are paid the price for their wrongdoing.
Adv. Shani Mizrahi is the owner of a strategy, PR and content writing firm.
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- Class Action Lawsuit
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