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Class Says Facebook’s New Default|Privacy Settings Invite Cyber Crimes

SAN JOSE (CN) - Facebook users say the site's new privacy settings are "materially deceptive, confusing and ineffective" at guarding personal information from prying eyes. The federal class action claims that since November 2009 the new settings have provided less control over personal information, exposing their Facebook friends, pictures, organizations they support and products they use to snooping by virtually anyone, "including hackers, scammers, criminals, sociopaths and the like."

The new privacy settings are "difficult to use" and are not "designed to explain how a user can best protect his information and data," the class says. "Rather, the default privacy settings are all set at the minimum level of protection," exposing Facebook users to "identity theft, harassment, embarrassment, intrusion and all types of cybercrime."

Facebook also makes people's personal information available to third parties such as Google, to profit through targeted advertisements based on information in Facebook profiles.

The complaint quotes "Internet expert" Jason Calacanis as saying, "Yes, Facebook is tricking us into exposing all our items so that those personal items get indexed in search engines - including Facebook's - in order to drive more traffic to Facebook."

The class demands an injunction requiring Facebook to implement stricter default privacy settings; a live chat system where people can get answers to their privacy questions; and an on-site video to walk people through all privacy settings, "explaining what they mean and what the minimum settings should be to keep users safe."

The class also seeks restitution of the value of their lost privacy, in violation of the Electronic Data Privacy Act, in the form of either a return to Facebook's previous privacy settings or disgorgement of profits made from revealing their personal information.

The class is represented by David Lake of Encino.


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