Facebook was hit with a lawsuit this week over its private messenger service. According to the class action suit, Facebook could be reading your private messages in order to help advertiser figure out what you want to buy.
The lawsuit alleges that the company is scanning private messages for links and passing the information to advertisers, reports Yahoo! News. The allegations would be a violation of California’s Electronic Communications Privacy Act. It was brought by Matthew Campbell and Michael Hurley on behalf of a ll Facebook users.
According to the lawsuit, Facebook “mine[s] user data and profit from [private messages] by sharing them with third parties — namely, advertisers, marketers, and other data aggregators.” Campbell and Hurley based the allegations on information from an independent security researcher that shows Facebook clicked on links sent through private messages.
This isn’t the first time Facebook has been accused of scanning through its users’ private messages. The Wall Street Journal reported in 2012 that Facebook was scanning through private messages and registering “Likes” for links in private messages. Facebook explained to the WSJ that it filtered private messages for spam or hints of criminal activity, but promised that “absolutely no private information has been exposed.”
The plaintiffs are asking Facebook to pay each member of the class action lawsuit “$100 a day for each day of violation or $10,000.” A spokesperson for the social network denied the claims made by Campbell and Hurley in their lawsuit, saying, “We believe the allegations are without merit and we will defend ourselves vigorously.” At least one security expert has come to the site’s defense.