Social networking giant Facebook Inc may face a legal hurdle for scanning through its users’ messages as a US judge has found the action as violation of users’ privacy.
US District Judge Phyllis Hamilton in Oakland, California, on Tuesday ruled that the social networking site should face a class action lawsuit for violating its users’ privacy by scanning the content of their messages that they have send to other users for purpose of advertising.
The Judge had, however, dismissed few state-law claims against Facebook but totally denied the company’s bid to dismiss the lawsuit against it.
Defending its action, Facebook had argued before the court that the alleged scanning of the messages of its users were done under the federal Electronic Communications Privacy Act, which allows interceptions by service providers during the ordinary course of business.
But the Judge said that the social media company had “not offered a sufficient explanation of how the challenged practice falls within the ordinary course of its business.”
The lawsuit, which was filed in 2013, accused Facebook of scanning the content of private messages exchanged between the users for websites’ links and would then count any links in order to maintain a tally of “likes” of the pages.
The lawsuit said that those “likes” were then used for the purpose of user profiles’ compilation, which was then utilized for delivering targeted advertising to its users.
The complaint further alleged that the private messages scanning also violated both federal and California state law.
The social media company ceased the scanning practice in October 2012, according to Tuesday’s ruling. However, it continued doing some analysis of messages for protecting the users against viruses and spam, the ruling said.
The legal case was filed by a Facebook user, named Matthew Campbell, who has sought a class action status on behalf of the American users who sent or received private messages that also included the addresses of websites in their content.