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Facebook Privacy The Courts

Facebook Being Sued Over Mining of Private Messages 170

Posted by Soulskill
from the mine-your-own-business dept.
Kimomaru writes "Two Facebook users are trying to start a class action lawsuit against Facebook for allegedly mining information from private messages with the intention of selling is to advertisers (full complaint PDF). It's not the first time a social medial player has been in the press over privacy or security issues. But when the services are provided free of charge, does the user have a realistic expectation of privacy or security, especially when it's understood that the user's data is being mined for advertising? If not, should social media networks be allowed to use words like 'private' (as in private messaging) or 'security' to describe their services?"
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Facebook Being Sued Over Mining of Private Messages

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  • by grub (11606) <slashdot@grub.net> on Friday January 03, 2014 @03:01PM (#45859141) Homepage Journal

    You are responsible for your own privacy. When Facebook or Google mine your data ('you are the product' as people say), you have nothing to fall back on. It's in their ToS which most people agree with because they just HAVE to see their 3rd cousin's dancing cat videos.

    Bitching is easy, doing something about it is harder.
  • Re:Really? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by neoform (551705) <djneoform@gmail.com> on Friday January 03, 2014 @03:02PM (#45859143) Homepage

    Google doesn't (as far as I know) save that data or send it to 3rd parties. Facebook appears to be creating a profile based on those keywords and using it for yet to be defined purposes.

    Contextual ads require context.

    If all someone is doing is running a function that looks at keywords then displays a relevant ad, this doesn't both me.

    If they collect the keywords, save them to a profile db, then sell that profile to others, that's a far more obvious violation of privacy.

  • User of service (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Midnight Thunder (17205) on Friday January 03, 2014 @03:02PM (#45859145) Homepage Journal

    While people using Facebook aren't necessarily paying customer, they are users of the service. Without users Facebook has no point of existing and therefore has no need of sponsors. For this reason we are using a service provided to us and in doing so there are expectations of fair treatment. Even cattle have certain rights.

    Brushing users off as 'non-paying customers' is a port excuse, since they are both users and customer of the service. If we don't 'like' as sponsor's message, then they can't ask for a exchange of fees from the sponsor.

  • Re:User of service (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Shagg (99693) on Friday January 03, 2014 @03:11PM (#45859257)

    Facebook's customers are the advertisers, not the users. Of course they are mining the user's data, that's the entire point of their business.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 03, 2014 @03:12PM (#45859273)

    They are doing something about it. They are trying to sue Facebook. Do you think it's OK to call a message private in the user interface and then tell people in a wall of text which nobody reads that private messages are not actually private?

  • by Rob the Bold (788862) on Friday January 03, 2014 @03:18PM (#45859337)

    You are responsible for your own privacy. When Facebook or Google mine your data ('you are the product' as people say), you have nothing to fall back on. It's in their ToS which most people agree with because they just HAVE to see their 3rd cousin's dancing cat videos. Bitching is easy, doing something about it is harder.

    Actually, filing a class action lawsuit is doing something.

    If a suit at least forces facebook and others to be more clear about what "private" means, that's something. It would help people to make more informed decisions if fb posted something like: "By 'private' we mean we won't intentionally share your message with other individual members until the next ToS change, but the contents are still fair game for us and our advertisers."

    Sure, everyone should know that "private" isn't private any more than a "lifetime warranty" last your whole life. And I'm sure that fb has buried something deep in the ToS. But if they're not doing anything wrong -- and they aren't according to the "contract" you have to accept in toto (or Scooby Doo, or whatever) to use the service -- they shouldn't have any problem making their policies more explicit. Nothing to hide, so to speak.

  • Re:Really? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by damn_registrars (1103043) <damn.registrars@gmail.com> on Friday January 03, 2014 @03:18PM (#45859343) Homepage Journal

    If they collect the keywords, save them to a profile db, then sell that profile to others, that's a far more obvious violation of privacy.

    Facebook is in the business of selling your information. If you don't like that, you should use a different communication mechanism.

  • Re:User of service (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Midnight Thunder (17205) on Friday January 03, 2014 @03:27PM (#45859447) Homepage Journal

    It is attitudes like this that encourages treating users like crap.

    You didn't read what I said. Without the users they have zero value of what they have to offer the advertisers. Also people should have legal rights with what they should expect from a service and what can and can't be done. In Europe this is certainly the case.

  • by Weaselmancer (533834) on Friday January 03, 2014 @03:40PM (#45859603)

    It's their servers, their house, their terms of service. Nobody forced you to be on Facebook. You asked to be there when you requested an account, and you knew the rules when you walked in the door.

  • Re:Really? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Raistlin77 (754120) on Friday January 03, 2014 @04:47PM (#45860197)

    This is never the correct response, ever. The "you are free to walk away" assumes you can somehow mitigate the need to occasionally talk to retards who are determined to use facebook, privacy and logic be damned.

    You can take yourself outside of the stupid system, but you can't take the stupid out of the system.

    That need is mitigated just fine by use of phone, text, email, snail mail, face-to-face contact, etc... "You are free to walk away" is the ONLY correct response, and if enough users would walk away, Facebook would be forced to stop the crap. The problem is that not enough users give a shit about their privacy.

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