In another blow to Facebook (FB) amid user concerns over privacy, Facebook is being sued for allegedly intercepting users’ private messages and selling the data to marketers.
That’s according to a class-action lawsuit filed in a federal court in California.
The lawsuit has not yet pinged FB stock — which is up a half point pre-market — but in the past week FB stock has already fallen 5%. The news is not bound to do FB stock any favors.
Facebook is accused of having violated the Electronic Communications Privacy Act and California privacy laws by its intentional interception of electronic communications (via PC World).
The Facebook ads already tap into what users “like” and post about online, but the lawsuit accuses FB of stealing private information for Facebook ads creation.
The social networking company scanned plaintiffs’ private messages containing URLs (uniform resource locators) and searched the website identified in the URL for “purposes including but not limited to data mining and user profiling,” according to the complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.
The company does not engage in the practice to facilitate the transmission of users’ communications via Facebook, but to enable it to mine user data and profit by sharing the data with third parties such as advertisers, marketers, and other data aggregators, the complaint said.
The complaint was drawn from the third-party research firm High-Tech Bridge, which reported in August it used a dedicated server and generated a secret URL for the most popular social networks, web services and free email systems. HTB used “the private messaging function of each of the services, embedding a unique URL in each message, and monitored its dedicated Web server’s logs for all incoming HTTP (Hypertext Transfer Protocol) requests, in order to see whether any of the services would “click” on the test URLs that had been transmitted via private message, the complaint said.”
”Facebook was one of the Web Services that was caught scanning URLs despite such activity remaining undisclosed to the user,” according to the complaint.
Facebook denies the claims.
The suit is asking for an injunction against the privacy violation practice and damages from the company to class members — $100 per day for per user for any type of alleged privacy violation.