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Tuesday, June 18, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Class Claims Facebook Violated Privacy

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (CN) - Facebook violated computer privacy law by using data mining "to automatically and without notice capture private information of its members" and post it on unaffiliated websites, a class action claims in Federal Court. The class claims Facebook's new "Instant Personalization" program violated the Stored Communications Act.

The class describes the Instant Personalization program as a "social plug-in" that allows third party websites such as Pandora, Yelp and Microsoft Docs to get Facebook users' personal information.

"Instant Personalization," loaded onto the nation's most widely used social networking site on April 10, broadcasts Facebook users' personal information through the network and posts it to third party websites when users click into the sites through their Facebook pages. When it was released, the tool did not give users the choice to opt in, but automatically signed them up for the application.

Facebook profited from it by mining its members' personal information for advertisers, according to the complaint.

After April 23, Facebook changed its privacy settings "to require an opt-in setting to activate Instant Personalization, however, it Facebook discloses personal information to third party websites through [users'] friends who have not disabled the service," according to the complaint.

Lead plaintiff Derrick Rose claims that "Facebook knowingly, willfully, unlawfully and intentionally without authorization divulged confidential and private information relating to plaintiff and the class' electronic communications," which violated the Stored Communications Act and the User Agreement that he signed when he created his account.

He seeks class damages and an injunction. He is represented by Peter Wasylyk of Providence.

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