Facebook has been slapped with a lawsuit for allegedly scanning users’ private messages.
The lawsuit, which was filed in a Northern California District court, accuses Facebook of breaching federal privacy laws by scanning and logging URLs sent through the social network’s private messaging system in a bid to get more likes for pages on its site.
In the complaint, the plaintiffs accuse Facebook of scanning the content of their private messages. If there is a link to a webpage in that message, the social networking firm then treats it as a ‘like’ of the page as well, the filing adds.
“Facebook uses this data regarding ‘likes’ to compile user profiles, which it then uses to deliver targeted advertising to its users,” the complaint reads.
The complaint goes on to say that the “messaging function is designed to allow users to communicate privately with other users,” and adds that “Facebook’s practice of scanning the content of these messages violates the federal Electronic Communications Privacy Act.”
The certification of the complaint by the court means the plaintiffs cannot receive any monetary damages, although the court could ban Facebook from carrying out such scans in the future. The plaintiffs have until June 8 to file any amended complaints.
Facebook, of course, is pleased to not be on the hook for any payouts.
“We agree with the court’s finding that the alleged conduct did not result in any actual harm and that it would be inappropriate to allow plaintiffs to seek damages on a class-wide basis,” a Facebook spokesperson said in a statement. “The remaining claims relate to historical practices that are entirely lawful, and we look forward to resolving those claims on the merits.”
Facebook has said it discontinued its scanning and logging practices some years back.