Facebook users in the United States may potentially be awarded over $10,000 each as part of a class action lawsuit filed against the social media giant. According to CNN Money on Jan 3, Facebook is being sued for scanning their users' private messages to glean information they can sell to be used in targeted marketing programs.
The particular messages being discussed in this suit included a private link or URL within the message, and this URL triggered the scan. The link was visited and information was recorded that determined a more complete user profile of preferences that would be very valuable to firms engaged in various online marketing efforts. For instance, if someone sends a link to a website about hunting, that could provide some quite specific information about both the sender and the recipient of the Facebook message.
As evidence, the lawsuit cites the results of a highly technical study conducted by the Swiss firm, High-Tech Bridge. A simplified explanation of their findings would be that they set up private URLS and sent them through private messaging to determine if private messages were being compromised. Facebook was one of the social media sites that did click on the private link which indicates that the private messages were not private. You can visit the High-Tech Bridge webpage here.
The lawsuit was filed in California by Mathew Campbell and Michael Hurley, and they have petitioned the judge to make it a "class-action" lawsuit. This would open the door to 166 million Facebook users in the United States to take part in the settlement. Typically, class-action suits make more money for the attorneys involved than anyone, but in this particular case, they are asking for significant settlements for each user and some additional damages.
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