Facebook sued for allegedly reading private messages and selling data to advertisers

By on January 3, 2014, 4:00 PM
facebook, lawsuit, privacy, private messages

Two Facebook users have filed a lawsuit against the social networking giant claiming the site violates the Electronic Communications Privacy Act in addition to California privacy and unfair competition laws by reading private messages sent between users and sharing key data with advertisers, marketers and other data aggregators.

Michael Hurley and Matthew Campbell filed the lawsuit on December 30 in a U.S. district court in Northern California. The suit also alleges that Facebook scans messages for URLs and when a link is found, it’s essentially clicked. If the destination has a Facebook “Like” button, it’s registered as a “Like.”

The plaintiffs want to suit to be made into a class action lawsuit and believe that up to 166 million Facebook member could be eligible to join in. The suit seeks up to $100 a day for each violation or $10,000 total for each user affected.

This isn’t the first time Facebook has been in hot water over private message privacy concerns. In 20012, the Wall Street Journal ran a story that essentially covered the same topic. Facebook at the time said their computers do analyze messages but only to filter spam and detect chatter that might be related to criminal activities.

Facebook isn’t the only company that’s come under fire for allegedly reading users’ messages as Google, LinkedIn and Yahoo have all faced privacy complaints in recent memory.

As for the lawsuit, a Facebook spokesperson told the Huffington Post that the complaint is without merit and they will defend themselves vigorously.

Add New Comment

TechSpot Members
Login or sign up for free,
it takes about 30 seconds.
You may also...
Get complete access to the TechSpot community. Join thousands of technology enthusiasts that contribute and share knowledge in our forum. Get a private inbox, upload your own photo gallery and more.