Facebook slapped with $15 billion lawsuit for allegedly violating wiretap laws

facebook eye

Just as Facebook prepared to bust out the champagne to honor its long-awaited IPO launch, Thursday the social network was hit with a massive class action lawsuit which claims that Facebook violated user privacy by tracking their Internet activity. The amended suit, which combines 21 similar lawsuits from across the country, seeks as much as $15 billion in damages.

The complaint, filed in federal court in San Jose, California, says that Facebook violated the Federal Wiretap Law by installing so-called “super-cookies” on users’ computers, which tracked their Web activity even after they logged out of the social network. As ZDNet reports, the law mandates statutory damages of $100 per day, per users, with a per-user maximum of $10,000. Plaintiffs also accuse Facebook of violating the Stored Communications Act, and a variety of California laws.

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of all U.S. residents who were members of Facebook between May 2010 and September 2011. If you are one of those people, then you could be entitled to as much as $10,000 (minus attorney fees, of course), if the court rules in favor of the plaintiffs.

“This is not just a damages action, but a groundbreaking digital-privacy rights case that could have wide and significant legal and business implications,” said David Straite, an attorney at Stewarts Law, one of the lead firms representing the plaintiffs.

Similar lawsuits have been filed in the past, but none have so far succeed on the grounds that cookies do not constitute a violation of wiretap laws.

A Facebook spokesperson said in a statement to the press, “We believe this complaint is without merit and we will fight it vigorously.”

If by some wild chance the court does side against Facebook in this matter, it would have vast implications for the use of cookies on the Web. It would also wipe out nearly all of the $16 billion or so that Facebook raised as a result of its IPO.

Social Media

Facebook says it unintentionally uploaded email contacts of 1.5 million users

Facebook says that over the last two years it unintentionally uploaded the email contacts of 1.5 million users as they signed up to the social networking service. The process has ended and the email addresses are being deleted.
Digital Trends Live

Digital Trends Live: Facebook data security, Ubisoft helps Notre Dame, and more

Join DT Live as we discuss Facebook security issues, Ubisoft's plan to help rebuild Notre Dame, and more. We are also joined by Emily Teteut of Snap the Gap, Jennifer Sendrow of New York Public Radio, and DJ and producer Zeke Thomas.
Digital Trends Live

Digital Trends Live: Samsung Galaxy Fold woes, zombie pigs, and more

Today's topics: Samsung Galaxy Fold, Facebook A.I. voice assistants, YouTube comes to Fire TV, facial recognition on airline flights, the SpaceX DART program, Yale's zombie pigs, and much more!
Smart Home

Oh, Zuck, no! Facebook rumored to be creating a voice assistant to rival Alexa

Facebook hasn't been a big player in the smart speaker market, but that may be changing: The social media giant is reportedly working on a digital assistant to compete against Alexa and others.
Social Media

How to download Instagram Stories on iOS, Android, and desktop

Curious about how to save someone's Instagram Story to your phone? Lucky for you, it can be done -- but it does take a few extra steps. Here's what you need to know to save Instagram Stories on both iOS and Android.
Social Media

Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp went down worldwide for 2 hours this morning

Chaos erupted on the internet this morning, as Facebook, Instagram, and Whatsapp all went down from 6:30 a.m. to approximately 9 a.m. Thousands of users were unable to access the sites or send or receive Whatsapp messages.
Mobile

Skype screen sharing for mobile will let you share your swipes on dating apps

Skype is prepping the launch of screen sharing for mobile so you can share your swipes on dating apps, shop with buddies, or, perhaps, show a PowerPoint presentation to coworkers. It's in beta just now, but anyone can try it.
Social Media

Facebook toys with mixing Stories and News Feed into one swipeable carousel

Facebook's News Feed could look a lot like Stories if a prototype the social media giant is working on rolls out to users. The design change mixes Stories and News Feed posts into a full-screen slideshow that users swipe left to navigate.
Social Media

No more moon showers as Facebook Messenger’s dark mode gets official rollout

Facebook Messenger launched a dark mode last month, but to activate it you had to message the crescent moon to someone. Now it's been rolled out officially, and it can be accessed in a far more sensible way — via settings.
News

Twitter has revealed a launch date for its handy hide replies features

Twitter has revealed a launch date for a feature that lets users hide replies to their tweets. The hope is that it will help the original poster filter out offensive or irrelevant content from conversation threads.
Photography

After controversial video, China bans ‘Leica’ on social media

A video that referenced Tiananmen Square got the name of the camera company Leica banned from the social media platform Weibo. Leica says the video wasn't an officially sanctioned promotion.
Photography

Photography News: Instagram’s disappearing likes, the best photos of the year

In this week's Photography News, see why Instagram is testing a version that excludes the number of likes a post gets. Also, see the impressive winners from two photography contests and the latest features coming to the Fujifilm X-T3.
Photography

Earn more likes on your photos with the best cameras for Instagram

Looking to snap better Instagrams? Instagram doesn't demand high-resolution files, but upgrading your camera can deliver better bokeh and low-light quality. Here our the best cameras for Instagram.
Social Media

Vine co-founder launches beta test for new video-looping app Byte

Vine co-founder Dom Hofmann has finally launched the beta version of Byte, a new video-looping app expected to closely resemble the one that closed down in 2017 after owner Twitter withdrew support.