From the revelation that Facebook scans through its user’s messages to deliver “tailored” ads, a U.S. judge has ruled that they must face a class-action lawsuit. Facebook’s bid to dismiss the lawsuit, filed by users Matthew Campbell and Micheal Hurley back in 2013, was dismissed by U.S. District Judge Phyllis Hamilton in Oakland. According to the details of the suit, until October 2012, when Facebook had said they stopped the practice, the large social networking company was scanning through user’s private messages for website URLs. This information was then used to deliver tailored advertisements to the user. By doing so, Facebook violated the federal and state privacy laws, which they broke by reading their users’ personal and private Facebook messages without their consent.
Facebook had shown that the Electronic Communications Privacy Act covered the practice to the district court. The social networking giant also stated that it discloses to all users that the company might use the information they receive from the users about them for data analysis.
However, Judge Hamilton wasn’t satisfied with Facebook’s explanation. She stated that Facebook had not offered a sufficient explanation of how the challenged practice falls within the ordinary court of business. She also added that the disclosure wasn’t specific enough to establish that users expressly consented to the scanning of the content of their messages.
“Facebook’s unwillingness to offer any details regarding its targeted advertising practice prevents the court from being able to determine whether the specific practice challenged in this case should be considered ‘ordinary,’” added Judge Hamilton.
Facebook is continuing to stay silent on any comments about the case.
Google is also under the hammer for the same message-scanning practices, though they aren’t facing a class-action suit like Facebook. Many experts in the field believe that the result of both of the lawsuits will have a major impact on how we use technology to communicate in the future.
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