A California man is suing Facebook for its alleged use of user’s private messages to create advertising data to sell to third-party companies.
The man claims that Facebook scans user messages in search of hyperlinks sent between users. The company then compiles a list of users who share similar links. This data is then sold to third party advertising who place target advertisements based on user’s interest and hobbies. The suit claims that when Facebook Messenger comprises a preview of a link for a user in the chat window, a file called “EntGlobalShare” is created that tracks all users who send that link.
Initial reports of this practice were revealed in 2012, but the tech giant quickly moved to turn off the scanning. However, some are still suspicious that Facebook Messenger has continued to spy on user’s links.
The plaintiff, Matthew Campbell, is seeking “injunctive and declaratory relief” rather than financial damages. In a statement, Facebook agreed with the court’s decision that the practice of scanning user messages didn’t result in actual harm. “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,” Facebook said in a statement.
According to Facebook, their scanning practices were “entirely lawful,” and said it was looking forward “to resolving those claims [named in the suit] on the merits.”