In a setback for Facebook users trying to band together in legal action against the site, a federal judge ruled late last week that a group seeking to file a class action lawsuit against the social media giant for alleged privacy violations cannot move forward because the plaintiffs don’t have enough in common.
“Because the court finds that individualized questions will predominate with respect to Facebook’s alleged breach and misrepresentation, the court denies plaintiffs’ motion for class certification,” Judge Ronald M. Whyte wrote in his ruling.
The group of Facebook users looking to sue the site claimed that it “automatically and surreptitiously” disclosed their information to advertisers after they clicked on an ad. They also said the site provided advertisers with information on how they were using the site itself, which they claimed violated Facebook’s “explicit privacy promises.”
Interestingly, Judge White threw out this case originally in 2011, and it was sent to an appeals court, which reversed the judge’s original decision. The appeals court then sent the case to a lower court to proceed on breach-of-contract and fraud claims. However, the recent second defeat of this would-be class action lawsuit could make it harder for similar cases to gain traction with users in the future; most ones like it have been defeated in court because plaintiffs have a difficult time proving that they were harmed by third parties obtaining their data. Still, despite the legal difficulty of the case, it’s never a good thing for users to lose out in court like this.