According to a U.S. judge, Facebook must face a class action lawsuit that accuses the site of violating user privacy by scanning the contents of private messages. The lawsuit, originally filed in 2013, alleged that Facebook scanned links sent in private messages and counted them as “Likes” for the linked pages.
Facebook argued that this practice was covered under the Electronic Communications Privacy Act and wanted the case dismissed completely, though U.S. District Judge Phyllis Hamilton said that Facebook had “not offered a sufficient explanation of how the challenged practice falls within the ordinary course of its business.”
“Facebook’s unwillingness to offer any details regarding its targeted advertising practice prevents the court from being able to determine whether the specific practice challenged in this case should be considered ‘ordinary,’” Hamilton went on to say.
During the ruling, Facebook said that it stopped this practice in 2012, though that it still routinely scans private messages for viruses and spam.
Facebook has come a long way since 2012, implementing easier-to-use privacy settings and giving users greater control over their content. Facing a lawsuit over their old privacy practices is likely the last thing the image-conscious site wants, though its heartening to know the courts will back up privacy-concerned users when push comes to shove.