Facebook sued over alleged accessing of private messages

When users compose messages that include links to another website, Facebook allegedly scans the content of the message and follows the link. (File photo: Reuters)

Facebook Inc. has been sued over allegations that it systematically intercepts its user’s private messages and profits from sharing the data with marketers and advertisers.

The case is Matthew Campbell v. Facebook Inc., 13-5996, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California (San Jose), reported Bloomberg.

When users compose messages that include links to another website, Facebook allegedly scans the content of the message and follows the link in search of information on the message sender’s Web activity. This action is in violation of the Electronic Communications Privacy Act and California privacy and unfair competition laws, according to the suit.

Two Facebook users filed the complaint in San Jose, complaining that the practice undermines Facebook’s promise of “unprecedented” security for its messaging function.

The scanning “is a mechanism for Facebook to surreptitiously gather data in an effort to improve its marketing algorithms and increase its ability to profit from data about Facebook users,” Michael Sobol, an attorney for the plaintiffs, wrote in the Dec. 30 complaint.

However, spokeswoman for Facebook Jackie Rooney said the company regards the allegations as “without merit.”

The plaintiffs are seeking a court order to certify the case as a group, or class action, lawsuit on behalf of all Facebook users who have used the private messaging function and included Web links in those messages in the past two years. They are seeking as much as $10,000 in damages for each user.

Google Inc. (GOOG), Yahoo! Inc. and LinkedIn Corp. (LNKD) also are facing accusations of intercepting communications for their profit at the expense of users or non-users, Bloomberg reported.

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Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:42 - GMT 06:42
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