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Lawsuit alleges Facebook “Likes” pages for you without consent

(Social Media) Facebook is in hot water for a major privacy breach, allegedly “liking” Facebook pages for you by mining links in your private messages. Ouch.



Facebook has no scruples where your privacy is concerned

Facebook has never been known for being the epitome of privacy, but with the new allegations of using members’ private data for their own personal gain; they may have gone too far.

In the new lawsuit, plaintiffs claim Facebook is mining links shared in private messages and converting them in to public “likes” in order to gain more money from their ad program.


They’re at it again

Previously, AGBeat investigated Facebook’s changing of your privacy settings, and now, they have violated their users’ privacy again. When you send a link to a Facebook friend, via a Facebook private message, Facebook then allegedly analyzes the content of the Facebook message, uses the enclosed link, and searches for information matching your own activity.

For example, if you send a message to a Facebook friend, enclosing a link to a new restaurant in town you want to try after work, Facebook would allegedly analyze the message, find the link, visit the page, and if it finds a “like” button on this page, it will assume you sharing the link counts as a “like” regardless of whether or not you have clicked the “like” (or enjoyed what you have sent). Many times we enclose links on Facebook messages to thing we do not like; we find them funny, or revolting, and simply want to share it with someone else.

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Making a major leap

With this alleged breach of privacy, Facebook is, in a way, deciding what you like based on what links you share in your private messages. And when Facebook assumes that you have “liked” something, they receive a kickback from the ad program.

It is in their best interest, to exploit any information they can mine from anything you send, but, I believe it is also in their best interest to give their user the option to “opt out” of the marketing of private information. Facebook constantly states that they are concerned with their users’ privacy, but actions speak louder than words. And mining private information is in a word: unacceptable.

This is also incredibly misleading

I know as Internet users, we should always assume everyone can read everything we post and censor ourselves, but, by Facebook “representing to users that the content of Facebook messages are ‘private’ creates an especially profitable opportunity for Facebook, because users who believe they are communicating on a service free from surveillance are likely to reveal facts about themselves that they would not reveal had they known the content was being monitored; thus, Facebook has positioned itself to acquire pieces of the users’ profiles that are likely unavailable to other data aggregators” according to the text of lawsuit.

This is also what makes it the most contemptible breach of privacy yet: they are aggregating information users assume to be private and out of the scope of data mining.

Members of the class-action lawsuit are seeking damages in the amount of $100 per day of violation, or $10,000 per class member, plus statutory damages of either $5,000 per member or three times the amount of actual damages, whichever is greater.

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Facebook has commented that the allegations “are without merit and will defend themselves vigorously.”

Jennifer Walpole is a Senior Staff Writer at The American Genius and holds a Master's degree in English from the University of Oklahoma. She is a science fiction fanatic and enjoys writing way more than she should. She dreams of being a screenwriter and seeing her work on the big screen in Hollywood one day.


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