Facebook sued for allegedly reading private messages, says accusation has no merit

facebook sued allegedly reading private messages fb

Facebook’s having another day in court: Two users have accused the social network of systemically reading private messages. The complaint, filed in a federal court in San Jose, California, alleges Facebook uses the information found in private messages to supply advertisers and marketers with ways to better target users with commercial materials. 

The lawsuit claims Facebook violates both the Electronic Communications Privacy Act and California’s privacy and unfair competition laws, by scanning private messages for third-party links and analyzing those links to add data to profiles used in targeted ads. Basically, they’re saying Facebook goes through your mail, looks for links, and then adds whatever they find in those links to a user profile on you to sell to advertisers. 

The complaint rails against Facebook’s alleged duplicity. “Representing to users that the content of Facebook messages is ‘private” creates an especially profitable opportunity for Facebook, because users who believe themselves to be communicating on a service free from surveillance are likely to reveal facts about themselves they would not reveal if they knew the content was being monitored,” the complaint reads. So a user might post about antique pens on his wall to look smart but have a conversation going with his pervy friend about the online bondage shops they like to frequent – if he’s wondering why the ads on his Facebook page seem suspiciously kinky, it would fit with this case’s accusations. 

This claim, that Facebook deliberately misleads its users into thinking that private messages are private, and then goes and finds links in the messages and gives the information to third parties, makes Facebook look straight-up villainous. And Facebook vehemently denies that they’re true. “The allegations in this lawsuit have no merit and we will defend ourselves vigorously,” a Facebook spokesperson told Digital Trends via email. 

We’ll see how the lawsuit unfolds; this could be the privacy straw that breaks the annoyed users’ back for some if the accusations are proven correct (which wouldn’t surprise me in the least – Facebook has eroded user privacy for  years). 

You can read the entire complaint yourself:

Campbell v Facebook

(h/t Bloomberg


Lyft and Aptiv’s self-driving car program has come a long way (but not far enough)

Many companies talk about self-driving cars, but Lyft and Aptiv are already using a fleet of them to transport paying customers in Las Vegas. Hop in for a close look at the tech of autonomous cars, and the challenges they face.

Apple banned from distributing some iPhone models in Germany

Apple is following the FTC's lead and has sued Qualcomm for a massive $1 billion in the U.S., $145 million in China, and also in the U.K., claiming the company charged onerous royalties for its patented tech.
Emerging Tech

Meet Wiliot, a battery-less Bluetooth chip that pulls power from thin air

A tiny chip from a semiconductor company called Wiliot could harvest energy out of thin air, the company claims. No battery needed. The paper-thin device pulls power from ambient radio frequencies like Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and cell signals.
Health & Fitness

In search of the fountain of youth, beauty companies turn to tech

Beauty tech is a fairly new concept, but at CES 2019, companies such as Olay, L’Oreal, and Neutrogena were fully embracing it with all kinds of gadgets that promise to give you glowing skin.
Social Media

No yolk! A photo of an egg has become the most-liked post on Instagram

Until this weekend, the most-liked post on Instagram was of Kylie Jenner's baby daughter, which has around 18 million likes. It's now been knocked off the top spot not by a stunning sunset or even a cute cat, but by an egg.
Social Media

Invite your friends — Facebook Events can now be shared to Stories

Facebook is testing a way to make plans with friends to attend an event -- through Stories. By sharing an event in Facebook Stories, users can message other friends interested in the event to make plans to attend together.
Social Media

A quick swipe will soon let you keep bingeing YouTube on mobile devices

The YouTube mobile app has a new, faster way to browse: Swiping. Once the update rolls out, users can swipe to go to the next (or previous) video in the recommended list, even while viewing in full screen.

Starting your very own vlog? Here are the best cameras to buy

Any camera that shoots video can be used to vlog, but a few models stand out from the crowd thanks to superior image quality, ergonomics, and usability. When it comes to putting your life on YouTube, here are the best cameras for the job.
Social Media

Twitter extends its new timeline feature to Android users

Twitter users with an Android device can now quickly switch between an algorithm-generated timeline and one that shows the most recent tweets first. The new feature landed for iPhone users last month.
Social Media

YouTube to crack down on dangerous stunts like the ‘Bird Box’ challenge

YouTube already bans content showing dangerous activities, but new rules published by the site go into greater detail regarding potentially harmful challenges and pranks, including certain blindfold- or laundry detergent-based stunts.
Social Media

Nearly 75 percent of U.S. users don’t realize Facebook tracks their interests

Did you know Facebook tracks your interests, including political and multicultural affiliations? According to a recent Pew study, 74 percent of adult users in the U.S. have no idea Facebook keeps a running list of your interests.

It’s back! Here’s how to switch to Twitter’s reverse chronological feed

Twitter has finally brought back the reverse chronological feed, allowing you to see your feed based on the newest tweets, rather than using Twitter's algorithm that shows what it thinks you want to see. It's easy to switch.
Social Media

Nearly a million Facebook users followed these fake Russian accounts

Facebook purged two separate groups behind more than 500 fake accounts with Russian ties. One group had ties to Russian news agency Sputnik, while the other had behavior similar to the Internet Research Agency's midterm actions.
Social Media

Twitter suffers privacy scare as bug reveals tweets of protected accounts

If you set your Twitter account to private and you have an Android device, you'd better check your settings now. Twitter says it's just fixed a four-year-old bug that flipped the privacy switch to make the account public.