The NSA isn’t the only one being accused of spying. Two Facebook users this week slapped the social network with a lawsuit alleging that it meddles with private messages.
“Contrary to its representation, ‘private’ Facebook messages are systematically intercepted by the company in an effort to learn the contents of the users’ communications,” according to the suit, which was filed in California district court.
Plaintiffs Matthew Campbell and Michael Hurley claim that Facebook scans messages and included links to search for information “to profile the message-sender’s Web activity.” The practice is done, they said, as a way to mine user data and profit by sharing information with third parties like advertisers, marketers, and data aggregators.
“Representing to users that the content of Facebook messages is ‘private’ creates an especially profitable opportunity for Facebook, because users who believe they are communicating on a service free from surveillance are likely to reveal facts about themselves that they would not reveal had they known the content was being monitored,” the suit said. “Thus, Facebook has positioned itself to acquire pieces of the users’ profiles that are likely unavailable to other data aggregators.
Facebook does not make it clear that it “scans, mines, and manipulates the content of users’ private messages,” according to the suit.
The social network’s privacy settings have come under fire over the years, and in 2012, the Federal Trade Commission finalized a settlement with Facebook over charges that the social network deceived consumers by failing to keep their information private, despite assurances that it would.
A Facebook spokeswoman, however, said today that “the allegations in this lawsuit have no merit and we will defend ourselves vigorously.”
The plaintiffs are asking for more than $100 per day of violation, or $10,000 per class member, as well as statutory damages of $5,000 per class member or three times the amount of actual damages – whichever is greater.
Google has also faced pushback on its email-scanning feature for Gmail, which serves up ads related to email content on the right-side of the page. In September, a California judge rejected Google’s request to dismiss a class-action case that accused the search giant of violating federal and state wiretap laws via Gmail scanning.
(Via PC Mag)