Facebook Sued for Scanning Private Messages

It's accused of selling private information to advertisers

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Robert Galbraith / Reuters

Two Facebook users have sued the social networking site over allegations of perusing private messages to share information with advertisers and marketers — for a profit.

According to the lawsuit filed in the Northern District Court of California by Matthew Campbell and Michael Hurley, the social networking site systematically scans nominally private messages to “improve its marketing algorithms and increase its ability to profit from data about Facebook users.” It counts links to other websites in private messages as sort-of “likes” to add to the Facebook user’s web activity profile that advertisers can use.

Such searching, if it is taking place, would violate the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, according to the suit. Jackie Rooney, a spokeswoman for Facebook said the allegations are “without merit.”

Facebook is not alone in facing such allegations. Google, Yahoo and LinkedIn have all been accused of intercepting communications for profit, according to Bloomberg.

[Bloomberg]

23 comments
Barb400
Barb400

If you have to pay for a service, the service is the product.

If you don't have to pay, YOU are the product.

Denesius
Denesius

And all this comes as a surprise to .... whom? Are you people really that naive?

jackandzena22
jackandzena22

True, I caught Google marketing products to me that I was emailing a vendor about just this morning.

earthtrash
earthtrash

YES IT'S A FACT!

ONLY LOSERS USE GOOGLE, FADBOOK, AND NITTWIT!

GET PROBED STUPID SLAVES!

humtake
humtake

This portrays the TRUE problem...the people.  People actually think that when they post online, everything is private and sacred.  People like that are a hacker's dream target.  These people would post credit card information online and then get mad that someone used it for fraud.  Facebook isn't the problem here. 

Gamthin
Gamthin

Read the EULA of any site you are going to use.  If you don't agree, then don't use the site.

EvinAR
EvinAR

I have never once clicked an internet ad. Something's got to give, and I hope it does.

sheriffgali
sheriffgali

Face Book hypocrisy is laughable the same as Google, Twitter and other social sites. They complained about the NSA and they do the same thing for economic reasons.

The NSA spying is for our protection whether we like it or not, however, anyone who believes that the Social sites are innocent of wrong doings, well, they may be more out of touch than they realize!

It'sASecret
It'sASecret

Read the user agreement that you agree to when you sign up for Facebook, then get back to us. This suit will go absolutely nowhere.


Bottom line: if it is free, you aren't the customer. You are the product.

rvwv2012
rvwv2012

Getting tired of that Facebook beacon on all the web pages also. Facebook is nothing but crap.

Woody_Brown
Woody_Brown

Yes, of course it's true.  You didn't imagine that Facebook--Google, LinkedIn, Yahoo, et. al.--spends millions upon millions of dollars on servers, coders and marketing guys just so you can 'Like' Time Magazine and keep a couple of sexts hidden from your mother?  Their code scans every freaking scan-able thing to sell advertising leads at as high a cost as possible to click-mongers who want you to believe that your credit card information is safe with them--hah!

It's the 2nd biggest scam there is next to actually believing that the U.S. Government spends billions upon billions of dollars on servers, coders and analytical guys to keep you safe from a terrorist attack that has almost zero possibility of ever even occurring.  They're profiling you!  Where on earth else do you imagine they get the demographics information that tells 'em so accurately that you're a swing vote who needs a brochure, special offer or visit from a campaign staff member to tip you over into casting that undecided ballet for the incumbent.

All either of these underhanded entities needs is to profile your weakness.  Are you active with children? women's issues? gay rights? immigration reform? a business start-up? PETA? the environment? whatever.  Coincidentally, some button-pushing words, audio, video or real-world materials are about to make their way in front of your senses...and it's not like they accidentally hire content specialists with psychology degrees to manipulate what you still ignorantly believe is your own free will.

The big problem is, ya just can't catch 'em at it.  There's non-disclosure secrecy imposed under threat of prison and unemployment, plausible deny-ability is everywhere, tracks are erased, communications shredded and spokespersons spin while lawyers protect the hand that feeds 'em until the courts finally give-up and let Mr. Scalia have his way.  So, no you can't actually believe any of this is really happening because that would mean being aware that you've already decided not to care, to turn a blind-eye, forget about it...commute to work and just do what you're told--to bit-by-bit aid and abet the enemy into invading our privacy, manipulating our ability to choose and chipping away at our will to be free.

GraffitiForensics
GraffitiForensics

Facebook is a big con job that makes millions of dollars off the backs of people's assumed privacy. Suckerburg is a megacreep.

Maggiechan
Maggiechan

But I am doubt that people will quit using Face book ..

chrispy
chrispy

Yet another reason to quit using Facebook (and Google, because they do the same thing). I HIGHLY recommend that everyone quit using Facebook and Google. Instead, consider using Ravetree, DuckDuckGo, and HushMail. These are excellent services that have excellent privacy. There are many other privacy-based services for you to choose from, but these are the ones I like (as do a lot of other people).

dbacchus
dbacchus

@newelllondon Or being offended  by the baseless accusation they asked him to leave, which he did mishearing/imaging on his way out the last (really hard to believe) phrase.

pbcomm
pbcomm

@Maggiechan Most likely not, but a lot of users like me removed their app from phones and other mobile devices.

rdu06
rdu06

@chrispy Or, people could purchase their own domain for about eight bucks a year and have their own private email. Save the free services for sign-ups and things like that, where you don't want to provide a secure and private service. 

Gmac
Gmac

@chrispy

Facebook took the liberty of deleting one comment in a private message between a friend and myself. Her crime? She slagged a TV station for charging to watch a previously free hockey tournament online. Wow.

Woody_Brown
Woody_Brown

@rdu06Yes, there's always a pay option--and the options just keep getting better, the more you pay...that's a good deal of the freaking point!