Facebook privacy – network faces court for ‘reading user messages’

Facebook is to face a class action lawsuit over ‘reading’ its user’s messages, a U.S. judge has ruled.

CNBC reports that the social network is accused of violating user privacy by scanning messages for URL links – which then counted towards the number of times a link has been ‘shared’ by the site.

Facebook also scans such messages for malicious content.

The Next Web reports that the class action suit seeks $10,000 damages per user who may have had their communications intercepted.

Facebook privacy – URL scans

Facebook had argued that scanning user messages in this way was permissible under the federal Electronic Communications Privacy Act for interceptions which occurred in the ordinary course of business, but a judge overruled the network’s attempt to dismiss the suit.

U.S District Judge Phyllis Hamilton, in Oakland, California, said that Facebook had ‘not offered a sufficient explanation of how the challenged practice falls within the ordinary course of its business,’ in a Reuters report.

‘Reading’ user messages?

The lawsuit, filed in 2013, argues that Facebook violates user privacy by ‘reading’ the messages, and then using the information for targeted advertising.

Facebook ceased the practice in October 2012 – but still scans messages for malicious links.

Facebook was embroiled in controversy earlier this year over privacy and ownership of data, after information emerged on a psychological experiment which involved altering the posts which appeared in users’ News Feeds in 2012.

Facebook has faced repeated controversy over privacy, with features such as Graph Search revealing information which users might have forgotten they ever “shared”.

Author , We Live Security

  • Vicki T

    The more I read about Facebook the better it is that I closed my account over 4 years ago. I hated the way they would make you think your account was closed when all it did was make it dormant. I had a friend who figured out how to “really” close your account and Facebook certainly didn’t make it easy to do, but I can truly say my account is closed. I’m sure they kept all my data, but I never liked Facebook anyhow so there’s not much info out there. That might make a great article if you would let others know how to close their Facebook accounts so they aren’t fooled into thinking that’s what they have done. Some people don’t understand why I am such a private person as I used to work for our local sheriff’s office and worked as a deputy, but I believe that people should have the right to protect themselves so I will never post on any social sites. Period. Thanks for this article, Rob! Everyone at ESET deserves a round of applause since your software and email articles really help us so much.

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