FACEBOOK FACING LAWSUIT FOR MINING PRIVATE MESSAGES – Facebook is once again facing another legal challenge; this time involving a class-action lawsuit that alleges the company has been mining data from private messages without the users’ knowledge or consent.
The lawsuit, filed by two U.S users, accuses Facebook of mining the data and then sharing the information with its advertisers, which if proven would violate the Electronic Communications Privacy Act and Californian privacy laws.
The lawsuit accuses Facebook of allegedly scanning private messages for links to third-party websites which it then shares this information with advertisers, marketers and other data aggregators.
The lawsuit was filed by Matthew Campbell of Arkansas and Michael Hurley of Oregon on December 30 in the District Court for Northern California on behalf of all Facebook members in the U.S that have used the site to send or receive private messages that include a URL link.
According to the complaint it accuse Facebook of using such information for ‘data mining and user profiling; the complaint also accused Facebook of generating US$2.7 billion from targeted advertising sales using the information in 2011.
“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 lawsuit content
Facebook has officially denied the plaintiffs’ claim and a spokesman for Facebook last Friday gave the following statement…
“The allegations in this lawsuit have no merit and we will defend ourselves vigorously”. Facebook spokesman
Facebook is not the only internet giant to be facing a lawsuit for similar allegations; Google is also currently facing a class-action lawsuit for allegedly violating user privacy by scanning the contents of users’ Gmail messages.
The once much loved social network has faced a number of complains and court actions on privacy related issues since going public. Last year Facebook settled another class-action lawsuit over its usages of usernames and images in what Facebook referred to as ‘sponsored stories’.
With Facebook currently facing a lawsuit over allegedly failing to reveal information that could well have affected its share offering price during its IPO this is yet more bad press that Facebook should have avoided; especially at a time when users’ are beginning to abandon their Facebook accounts.