Facebook sued for mining private messages – is online privacy really dead?

Facebook has been hit with a class-action lawsuit over claims it monitors its users’ private messages, selling the data collected to advertisers.

The plaintiffs claim that the social networking site systematically intercepts private messages to obtain data it then shares with marketers in an attempt to gain competitive edge, reports CNN.

Matthew Campbell and Michael Hurley, two Facebook users from the United States are citing an independent research that alleges that when a Facebook user shares a link to another website in a private message, this link is recorded and retained in order to analyse the user’s web activity.

According to the lawsuit, such mining for links and other information to be potentially sold to advertisers is done without disclosure or user consent, breaching California privacy and unfair competition laws.

Mr Campbell and Mr Hurley filed the lawsuit in a U.S. district court in California and are attempting to make it a class-action suit, believing that all of Facebook’s users in the United States should be eligible to join. As of last year, this number stands at around 128 million for active users.

While Facebook finds the allegations to be ‘without merit’, the issue of big data and online privacy has long ceased to be a new one.

While Facebook finds the allegations to be ‘without merit’, the issue of big data and online privacy has long ceased to be a new one. According to Aphaia’s founder Dr Boštjan Makarovič, any privacy and personal data regime based on user consent is more challenging to maintain in a complex data environment. He adds, however, that users’ consent to monitoring of their online behavioural patterns in order to enhance service performance should not be interpreted to automatically include their consent to recording and re-using the content of their personal messages.

In our webinars ‘Big Data and Mobile Business: Opportunities, Privacy and Data Protection’ and ‘Big Data and Mobile Commerce: What it Means for Privacy and Data Protection’ to be held 21 and 22 January respectively Aphaia’s founder Boštjan Makarovič will thus focus on both smart compliance with today’s rules, as well as more future-proof regulatory solutions in a world of big data that is created on the move and made available to multiple actors.

You can sign up for the free webinars here and here.

Ursa Primozic

Ursa Primozic

Ursa Primozic has been with Aphaia since its foundation. With several years of experience within the telecommunications sector, she is in charge of communications management and media policy and regulation analysis.
Ursa Primozic

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