Two Facebook users are suing the website, claiming that Facebook scans private Facebook messages to profile users and mine information for advertisers. Their suit also alleges that Facebook does not do enough to inform users of the extent to which they can allegedly scan users’ private messages, and that the site has violated federal wiretap laws and California privacy laws.
“Contrary to its representations, ‘private’ Facebook messages are systematically intercepted by the company in an effort to learn the contents of the users’ communications,” the two users, Matthew Campbell and Michael Hurley, allege in their complaint, filed in court this week. “This practice is not done to facilitate the transmission of users’ communications via Facebook, but because it enables Facebook to mine user data and profit from those data by sharing them with third parties — namely, advertisers, marketers, and other data aggregators.”
It’s unclear if the allegations made in the suit are true, though some of the information in the suit is similar to the Facebook algorithm revealed in 2012 that took links shared in private Facebook messages and converted them to “Likes” for the pages that were shared. The legitimacy of the plaintiff’s case remains unclear, but such a bold legal attack against Facebook is sure to soon draw massive attention from consumer watchdogs and privacy advocacy organizations alike.