The social notworking site is facing a class-action lawsuit in Canada over its alleged interception of private message of users of the social network. The lawsuit in the Ontario Superior Court claims that URLs in the private messages were “harvested” by Facebook in violation of its users’ privacy, without their knowledge. Facebook did not tell users that their private messages would be intercepted and scanned, and the contents of those messages treated as “likes” for third-party sites through the social plug-in function, the class action claimed.
Facebook mined user data and profited by sharing the data with third parties such as advertisers, marketers, and other data aggregators, despite having made representations that “reflect the promise that only the sender and the recipient or recipients will be privy to the private message’s content, to the exclusion of any other party, including Facebook,” the complaint added.
Facebook quietly shelved the practice, without acknowledging it, in October 2012 after a report in the Wall Street Journal exposed the scanning.
The class-action lawsuit covers all Canadian resident Facebook users who sent or received private messages containing URLs up to October 2012. Since there were more than 18 million Facebook users in Canada this could mean a big pay out.