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Facebook Being Sued Over Mining of Private Messages

Soulskill posted about 10 months ago | from the mine-your-own-business dept.

Facebook 170

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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Really? (3, Interesting)

Frosty Piss (770223) | about 10 months ago | (#45859059)

It's Facebook. Is it reasonable to expect complete privacy with any part of it? Email at least has some expectation of privacy, but even there, the big providers scan your email for targeted advertising.

I really don't think a reasonable person expects a lot of "privacy" at Facebook, certainly "private messages" are only private from other users, not Facebook bots...

Re:Really? (5, Funny)

neoform (551705) | about 10 months ago | (#45859081)

If i send a private message to someone on facebook, I feel I deserve the same level of privacy as if I was using gmail to send it.

Re:Really? (2, Informative)

damn_registrars (1103043) | about 10 months ago | (#45859103)

If i send a private message to someone on facebook, I feel I deserve the same level of privacy as if I was using gmail to send it.

Isn't that what they are doing? GMail mines your email to give you targeted advertising as well.

Re:Really? (5, Insightful)

neoform (551705) | about 10 months ago | (#45859143)

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.

Re:Really? (1)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | about 10 months ago | (#45859173)

Gmail saves the data, but you are in control, you tell it when to delete.
My wife never does. I'm using something like 17% of my 15 GB.

Re:Really? (4, Insightful)

damn_registrars (1103043) | about 10 months ago | (#45859343)

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:Really? (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45859497)

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.

Re:Really? (1)

neoform (551705) | about 10 months ago | (#45859845)

You're saying it's not legal for me to run a store that has a TOS that all entrants must agree to which has a clause that says, "i can shoot you in the face if I feel like it"?

Damn, I thought I had found a loophole!

Re:Really? (4, Insightful)

Raistlin77 (754120) | about 10 months ago | (#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.

Re:Really? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45859735)

If I sold a book about how much niggers stink and how every place with lots of niggers always goes straight to hell would you call that NiggerBook?

Re:Really? (1)

deconfliction (3458895) | about 10 months ago | (#45860023)

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

The practical problem with that is that the 'field of dreams' of the internet, which was supposed to foster a competitive environment for the most valuable and innovative services, has been militarized by the NSA. When the NSA has Google/gmail and Facebook onboard it's PRISM program, and through years of disinformation, those services have weaseled their way into ubiquity, the opportunity for alternatives to flourish is suppressed. Look at the way ISPs filter smtp or ban servers against residential connections. You say- "just go run your own mail server and use pgp if you want 'real' 'private messages'". I say, I can't do that without paying a 5X premium in price to my ISP for a 'business grade' service that allows me to host my own mail server, cutting out the Facebook and Google middlemen. And when there is a 5X, or even 200% premium in price, the market for commercial developers to provide a solution to the masses is effectively cut off. The NSA very much likes things as they are with all the sheeple forced to funnel their traffic through the swiss cheese of the Google and Facebook corporations. (the NSA infiltrating Google and Facebook is a weak link in security that will never go away. open source and the ability to independently host servers at home is the only way to cut those spooky fucking middle-weasels out of the picture. Let them chew on my gpg encrypted smtp traffic).

Re:Really? (1)

StripedCow (776465) | about 10 months ago | (#45860167)

Actually, facebook's protocols should have been open by now. What if the first telephone company ever (AT&T?) didn't open up their protocols? Would that be acceptable? Answer: No. What if e-mail was a closed protocol run by google? Would that be acceptable? Answer: No.

So why are facebook's protocols open (a mass communication service like the others)?

Re:Really? (1)

litehacksaur111 (2895607) | about 10 months ago | (#45860029)

I am pretty sure that google will begin just what you describe if Facebook wins this lawsuit.

Re:Really? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45859607)

If i send a private message to someone on facebook, I feel I deserve the same level of privacy as if I was using gmail to send it.

Isn't that what they are doing? GMail mines your email to give you targeted advertising as well.

Whoosh...

Re:Really? (1)

Nethemas the Great (909900) | about 10 months ago | (#45859667)

There are slight differences. Google is aware of everything you do and has a basic understanding of who you are through the associations you've made with them. They take their understanding of you and translate it into valuable tailored services with a side-order of targeted advertisements.

Facebook on the other hand has a less precise awareness of everything you do and has a poor to mediocre understanding of who you are through associations you've made with them. They take their understanding of you, tailor some advertisements as well and offer what they have on you to anyone willing to pull some change from their pocket. In exchange you are given a service that enables superficial social interactions and the gathering of additional data points.

Re:Really? (2)

Guru80 (1579277) | about 10 months ago | (#45859285)

Lucky for you, you get it! Google does the same thing, those ads you see aren't a coincidence. The last time I saw an ad on GMail (before I used ad-block), every time the girlfriend talked about marriage in emails all the damn ads were engagement rings and wedding supplies. That wasn't a lucky guess on Google's behalf.

the pan opticon (1)

goombah99 (560566) | about 10 months ago | (#45859697)

If i send a private message to someone on facebook, I feel I deserve the same level of privacy as if I was using gmail to send it.

I realize this is sarcasm. What bugs me about gmail is not the message I send or receive to my g-mail account. I know those are mined. What bugs me is when I send e-mail to other people and they happen to use g-mail. Often their use of G-mail isn't obvious since they use their g-mail to collect forwarded e-mail or hosted URLs. Othertimes it might be a list server in which the e-mails of the recipients are not exposed even though you know the people. They might even forward the e-mail to someone who has a G-mail account.

In any case all those e-mails that I did not intend to share with Google also get harvested along with my e-mail address. While I don't mind my freinds sharing my e-mails, I do mind the un-asked association of my provate thoughts with my non-google e-mail address by google.

    That chaps my ass because you just can't escape the pan optic glare of the all seeing eye of google. Nothing escapes if you want to communicate with others by e-mail.

nude beach versus the google oogle. (2)

goombah99 (560566) | about 10 months ago | (#45859777)

While I don't mind my freinds sharing my e-mails, I do mind the un-asked association of my provate thoughts with my non-google e-mail address by google.

    That chaps my ass because you just can't escape the pan optic glare of the all seeing eye of google. Nothing escapes if you want to communicate with others by e-mail.

In contrast I don't really mind facebook quite as much, at least right now. Facebook is the nude beach. If you go there you are expected to have your trousers down and should know that by now. Google is the like having the TSA body scanners in every doorway on the planet. The google oogle is a prying peeping tom, not simply the owner of the nude beach.

Of course, facebook is trying hard to be as ubiquitous as google. Nearly every web page I go to, Ghostery warns me that facebook just tried to plant a tracking bug on me. Many places now are using facebook as the single-sign on credential, so soon, like google, it will just be obligatory.

But for now their own limitations make them more benign than the spreading eagle google oogle.

Re:the pan opticon (1)

TheNastyInThePasty (2382648) | about 10 months ago | (#45859781)

Maybe you should include a robots.txt file attached to your email.

Re:the pan opticon (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45859867)

Maybe you should include a robots.txt file attached to your email.

how? and why would that even work if you did?

Re: the pan opticon (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45859909)

Did you know that you can put a line in your ~/.wgetrc file to tell it to ignore robots.txt ? Sometimes you have to forge a user agent, too.

IP bans can still get ya so grabit fast.

Re:Really? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45859743)

If i send a private message to someone on facebook, I feel I deserve the same level of privacy as if I was using gmail to send it.

Thanks for the laugh.

Re:Really? (1)

Joce640k (829181) | about 10 months ago | (#45860039)

If i send a private message to someone on facebook, I feel I deserve the same level of privacy as if I was using gmail to send it.

None at all...?

Re:Really? (1)

Kimomaru (2579489) | about 10 months ago | (#45859095)

Well, that's the point - it's not just Facebook bots that are privy to the information but advertisers as well. Is it still "privacy" then?

Re:Really? (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45859253)

Well, that's the point - it's not just Facebook bots that are privy to the information but advertisers as well. Is it still "privacy" then?

You're mistaken, and this lawsuit is most likely going to be dismissed because the plaintiff has a factual misunderstanding of what they do.

FB doesn't actually give contents of anything of yours to anybody else. Here's how they offer to advertisers: You basically "tag" your ad with various key words to target or avoid, these can be formally declared items (such as setting your hometown, date of birth, etc.) or simply key words scraped out of comments, chat, wall posts, etc.
They can get aggregate stats on how many people were shown the ad, which key words were triggered off of them, but nothing specific about any of the actual viewers.

The only way they can actually get data from ad viewers is through "side channel" methods, which require you to either click-through the ad to their site or actually use a coupon they present.
Note that I'm not defending any of their practices, but if you're going to get Mad and Do Something about it, you ought to at least get the facts straight first.

Re:Really? (1)

zlives (2009072) | about 10 months ago | (#45859163)

perhaps this will generate enough chatter that the other FB/gmail/whatever users will question their free services... probably not!!

Re:Really? (1)

StripedCow (776465) | about 10 months ago | (#45859203)

It's time to have PGP on facebook. I hope somebody creates a decent javascript tool to encrypt/decrypt stuff browser-side.

Re:Really? (1)

dreamchaser (49529) | about 10 months ago | (#45859245)

It's time to have PGP on facebook. I hope somebody creates a decent javascript tool to encrypt/decrypt stuff browser-side.

How about don't use Facebook at all, or if you do don't use it for anything private?

Re: Really? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45860051)

Better yet, we need to come up with automated tools to create fake FB accounts, then spam them full of junk. It would be wonderful for a large collaberative effort to turn FB into a giant mass of made-up bullshit and spam. The Zuck deserves it.

Re:Really? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45859513)

Good luck with that. Try sending PGP ascii messages, and they won't make it to the receiver, as they are flagged as spam.

Re:Really? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45859549)

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Re:Really? (1)

sirhan (105815) | about 10 months ago | (#45859705)

Facebook chat can be accessed via XMPP. So use a good IM client like Pidgin [pidgin.im] with the OTR plugin [cypherpunks.ca] and you have nice, encrypted chats via FB. I use it daily, and it works great.

Re:Really? (5, Interesting)

ackthpt (218170) | about 10 months ago | (#45859259)

It's Facebook. Is it reasonable to expect complete privacy with any part of it? Email at least has some expectation of privacy, but even there, the big providers scan your email for targeted advertising.

I really don't think a reasonable person expects a lot of "privacy" at Facebook, certainly "private messages" are only private from other users, not Facebook bots...

If a message is stated as "Private" it should be treated entirely as private. I think that implication would hold up in any court as a reasonable expectation, regardless of how Facebook mines Public or Shared content. Dangerous precedent otherwise.

Re:Really? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45860007)

Your "private" message on Facebook? You are using their application, of which you provided information. You are the product.

Re:Really? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45859455)

It being Facebook doesn't matter. The question is "is it reasonable to expect privacy when someone says something is private". Facebook are explicitly stating that this is a private message, and then reneging on that deal. The complaint seems pretty reasonable to me.

Apples and Oranges (1)

s.petry (762400) | about 10 months ago | (#45859493)

If you were referring to messages publicly posted, of course people should not expect that to be private. If the same company provides a "PRIVATE message service" there absolutely is an expectation of privacy, it's in the name for pity sake.

I am not gullible enough, and neither should anyone be, to believe that wording is always correct. "Workers Rights" laws for example are not really "workers rights" for example. That said, I can read the laws to see how they will be used. I can't do the same thing with a private company that can change their use without notice.

If Facebook gave fair warning that your "private messages" would not be private this would be a non story. Facebook may have sent out a message at some point that stated something to that effect, but that is not fair notice without an amount of reinforcement and disclosure.

Re:Really? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45860085)

Headline: X violates your privacy.

Response: It's X, you have no reasonable expectation of privacy, because X and Y have been doing this for years and you should know better. -- John Roberts

Re: Really? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45860217)

Privacy is ALLWAYS EXPECTED, no only is wiretapping uncool it's also a CRIME!!!

When private does not mean private (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45859099)

we might as well admit defeat to cynicism. Everybody knows that there is no free lunch, so I should be allowed to advertise free lunch and then demand that anyone who took me up on it pay for the lunch. Is that it?

Re:When private does not mean private (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45859155)

Dammit, now I'm hungry. Jimmy Johns?

Re:When private does not mean private (4, Informative)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | about 10 months ago | (#45859231)

Another sad tale lost to history.

There ain't no such thing as a free lunch: In the 1800s in the western United States, many taverns would offer free lunches. The catch was that while the lunch was free, the beer was not. Even today, you'll see tavern and pub food offerings being the saltiest, greasiest food possible- an outgrowth of the free lunch menus, designed to make you thirsty so that you'll buy more beer. In downtown Portland, OR, a teetotaler millionaire decided to fight back- Samuel Benson. He did so by creating Skidmore Fountain and the "Benson Bubblers"- free water fountains that can still be seen in downtown Portland- which ended the free lunch craze there.

So yes, it is *exactly* like a free lunch- give them the lunch, make them pay for the drinks.

Re:When private does not mean private (1)

Kkloe (2751395) | about 10 months ago | (#45859237)

what?, do you even know how to make a analogy that has to do with the topic? it would be more like you advertise free lunch, people eat the free lunch, then you sell the information about the lunch, like did the person like it, how long did it take to eat it, did the person eat all, did he prefer lunch option a or b etc...

Re:When private does not mean private (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45859813)

Actually, your analogy doesn't really make sense either.

This would be more like:

Free lunch is advertised. You're told beforehand that what you're eating will be recorded and that information will be sold. While you're eating, they also time you to see how long it takes to finish (they do not tell you that they'll be doing this). They then sell both the information about the contents of the lunches and the time it took you to eat and there's an uproar.

Then again, I don't think this story calls for any analogies. I think "Marxist Hacker" was just telling a random story.

You are responsible for it. (5, Insightful)

grub (11606) | about 10 months ago | (#45859141)


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:You are responsible for it. (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#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?

Re:You are responsible for it. (1)

grub (11606) | about 10 months ago | (#45859313)

I think the fact that no human at Facebook read the actual message, it's automated, is what will get this dismissed. Much like gmail.

Re:You are responsible for it. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45859625)

Actually facebook hires censors in third world countries to read your posts for a dollar an hour. Don't know if "private" messages are included.

Re:You are responsible for it. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45859711)

Actually facebook hires censors in third world countries to read your posts for a dollar an hour. Don't know if "private" messages are included.

No shit! o.O [rawstory.com]

Re:You are responsible for it. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45859279)

As so may be, the ToS is not above the law. What does the law have to say about this?

Re:You are responsible for it. (1)

viperidaenz (2515578) | about 10 months ago | (#45859417)

That you must honor contracts? like the privacy policy and terms of service.

Re:You are responsible for it. (1)

timeOday (582209) | about 10 months ago | (#45859601)

The false equivalence between parties when a person and a big company enter into a so-called mutually binding contract is one of the more ridiculous myths of our present-day culture. It's something an alien culture would look at and say, "really? You all agreed to play along with that pretense?" As if an individual could ever have the time to read, and the training to understand, dozens of pages of legalize for every basic function in society such as making a purchase or looking at a web page, countless times per day. It's a big, obvious lie that just facilitates companies' power to dictate every transaction on their own terms. Exchanges between individuals on one side and companies on the other should be regulated by selecting one of a few off-the-shelf Terms of Service, defined by a democratic process. Any such process could be nitpicked, but almost anything would be better than what we're doing now.

Re:You are responsible for it. (3, Insightful)

Rob the Bold (788862) | about 10 months ago | (#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:You are responsible for it. (2)

viperidaenz (2515578) | about 10 months ago | (#45859425)

Tonka has a lifetime warranty, defined as "The life of the original purchaser"

Re:You are responsible for it. (1)

Libertarian001 (453712) | about 10 months ago | (#45859717)

Well, intentionally re-defining a commonly understood word to mean something completely opposite and then hiding behind a TOS and EULA is pretty scummy. I have no problem with them trying to make money. I do have a problem with it when the obfuscate how they're doing it. Hiding behind the TOS is them admitting that they know they're wrong and trying to trick people, otherwise they wouldn't be hiding. I don't think it's unreasonable to ask that they just be open and honest about how they're going to work.

  "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."

Fine, but don't call it "private" because that's not even close to what the word means.

Re:You are responsible for it. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45859951)

The problem is that the lawsuit may end up just giving Facebook a stronger legal standing that any data on their servers is theirs to do with, what they please.

This case isn't going to last long. The Facebook attorneys will pull out the TOS that was explicitly agreed on, the judge dismisses the case with prejudice, and FB countersues for the time their legal staff had to take.

In the US, there has yet to be a TOS case that has been dismissed. Court precedent is with Facebook, and the trial will be in a court that is friendly to Facebook and its interests.

Re:You are responsible for it. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45859505)

You're right, doing something about it is harder, especially when Congress must get involved, to correct the ridiculous situation "social network" companies have been allowed to create.

Corporations are not above the law (1)

Morgaine (4316) | about 10 months ago | (#45859537)

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

Only in some corporatist's wet dreams are corporations above the law. Whatever it may say on a ToS that they've pulled out of their asses, it does not change the facts one iota. The ToS cannot override the law of the land.

There is no means by which a person can sell themselves into slavery to a company by clicking on a web page. And by the same token, a company cannot decide that your personal data is theirs for them to do as they please just because it says so in the ToS they've written.

You seem to think that corporations are sovereign countries and are in their total right to own you. Sorry, but it doesn't work that way. You are NOT a product of a company, no matter how much some people like that cute phrase. You are, funnily enough, a person, and your rights as a person extend to the personal data that you entrust to third parties.

Impossible (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45859595)

It is now totally impossible for me to have full control over my privacy, thus it can't be my responsibility.

The violation of our privacy is public endangerment and our representatives have a responsibility to regulate these stalker corporations. Regulation up to and including the threat of revoking their corporate charters.

All this risk so these capitalists can shove targeted advertizing down my throat? Fucking LUDICROUS. You want to know what ads I would be interested in and you are providing me a valuable service? FUCKING ASK ME AND I'LL TELL YOU. How fucking hard is that?

I'd start my own privacy friendly facebook, but it seems that that is an invitation to the federal wolves with their secret courts and gag-orders to come and fuck me and my customers over.

Others are reponsible for my privacy. (1)

tuppe666 (904118) | about 10 months ago | (#45859645)

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.

Except this is not remotely true; it shows a astonishing naivete (I suspect subterfuge). With Google you are not the product...tailored (automated) advertising is. Ironically with Facebook although I find the claim somewhat astonishing (for business reasons; you can only sell data once)...is your private data is being sold to anyone with cash...your *private life* is the product. The difference between the two is enormous.

What is even more scary about social networks including Googles is individuals can be tracked without ever signing up to Facebook, If they cannot figure out my name; address; partners; friends; social occasions; jobs; sexual preference; lifestyle choices from the text; pictures and videos that I have without ever signing up to facebook...they will.

User of service (4, Insightful)

Midnight Thunder (17205) | about 10 months ago | (#45859145)

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 (2, Insightful)

Shagg (99693) | about 10 months ago | (#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.

Re:User of service (3, Insightful)

Midnight Thunder (17205) | about 10 months ago | (#45859447)

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.

Re:User of service (2)

Shagg (99693) | about 10 months ago | (#45859593)

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

Yes, Facebook does treat it's users like crap.

Without the users they have zero value of what they have to offer the advertisers

True, but for now they have plenty of users (most of whom probably don't care that their information is being mined/sold). Until that changes, they will continue to treat them like crap.

Re:User of service (0)

dreamchaser (49529) | about 10 months ago | (#45859329)

Except that they are not Facebook's customers. You're mistaken. FB's customers are the companies they sell the mined data to. Their users are the product, not the customer.

Non-paying Customer (1)

Chemisor (97276) | about 10 months ago | (#45859577)

So what if I want to be a paying customer instead? Are they any social network providers that charge for service rather than selling us down the river to advertisers? How about a search engine? An email provider? Where are these alternatives that would let us tell advertisers to go screw themselves?

Re:Non-paying Customer (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45859731)

Nice idea, unfortunately 215 still applies.

Re:User of service (1)

StripedCow (776465) | about 10 months ago | (#45860121)

Therefore, I demand to pay at least a few cents for a service before using it. (Slashdot being an exception).

Free? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45859165)

What does it being free have to do with expectation of privacy? Is TFS implying that you only have privacy if you pay for it?

Re:Free? (1)

zlives (2009072) | about 10 months ago | (#45859373)

yes, just like taxes...

Quite obvious (1)

bob_super (3391281) | about 10 months ago | (#45859179)

According to mister Goebbels, a lot of the recent problems of the USA could probably be solved by having a friendly discussion with dictionary editors, about that incorrect definition of the word "privacy"

Huh (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45859195)

What part of the "you are the product" business model do these people not understand?

What was in the agreement (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45859211)

FYI editors Minor typo (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45859215)

third link says "a social medial player" instead of media

Facebook lied in their privacy policy. (5, Interesting)

Animats (122034) | about 10 months ago | (#45859227)

The complaint makes a key point. Facebook lied in their privacy policy. See page 19 of the complaint, "Facebook Fails to Disclose That Its Private Message Processes Read, Acquire, and Use Private Message Content, in Violation of Its Express Agreements With Facebook Users." This looks like a clear ECPA violation.

Re:Facebook lied in their privacy policy. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45859631)

The complaint makes a key point. Facebook lied in their privacy policy. See page 19 of the complaint,
"Facebook Fails to Disclose That Its Private Message Processes Read, Acquire, and Use Private Message Content, in Violation of Its Express Agreements With Facebook Users."
This looks like a clear ECPA violation.

The complaint makes a key point. Facebook lied in their privacy policy. See page 19 of the complaint,
"Facebook Fails to Disclose That Its Private Message Processes Read, Acquire, and Use Private Message Content, in Violation of Its Express Agreements With Facebook Users."
This looks like a clear ECPA violation.

Facebook launched in urdu version thats great thing they evr have done [technhackpk.com]

Re:Facebook lied in their privacy policy. (1)

Miros (734652) | about 10 months ago | (#45860119)

I'm not so sure. They clearly state that they receive messages in the "information we receive about you" section, and then clearly state that they use the information that they receive to "measure or understand the effectiveness of ads you and others see, including to deliver relevant ads to you"

It's worth noting (4, Interesting)

msobkow (48369) | about 10 months ago | (#45859235)

It's worth noting that Facebook calls them "Messages", not "Private Messages" as some forums do.

Re:It's worth noting (2)

grub (11606) | about 10 months ago | (#45859291)

Facebook should call them "Post Cards". The sending and receiving parties get to read them as well as the delivery service.

Re:It's worth noting (2)

Kimomaru (2579489) | about 10 months ago | (#45859303)

I was think that they should call it "direct messaging". And the word "security" in the account settings probably should be changed to "wishful thinking" or something.

Not originally, I'm pretty sure. (1)

intellitech (1912116) | about 10 months ago | (#45859415)

They were originally called private messages. That might be where the crutch of this case's success will lie.

Stop Complaining and do something about it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45859267)

It's like bitching that your friends told your girlfriend your fucking other women.
Sure it sucks, but if you didn't want people to know you shouldn't have told them.
If you want private messaging use encryption.

Read it for yourself (1)

BringsApples (3418089) | about 10 months ago | (#45859307)

Seriously, read the advertizing guidelines policy for facebook:
https://www.facebook.com/ad_guidelines.php [facebook.com]

It starts off like this:
"At Facebook, we believe that ads should contribute to and be consistent with the overall user experience. The best ads are those that are tailored to individuals based on how they and their friends interact and affiliate with the brands, artists, and businesses they care about. These guidelines are not intended to serve as legal advice and adherence to these guidelines does not necessarily constitute legal compliance. Advertisers are responsible for ensuring that their ads comply with all applicable laws, statutes, and regulations."

Re:Read it for yourself (1)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about 10 months ago | (#45859701)

If I were to start up a car company and put a sticker in the truck that read:
"We feel that the safest way for our customers to be in an accident is to not be in the car at all when it happens. Therefore we've replaced all of our airbags with ejection seats which will remove you from the immediate vicinity of the accident upon collision. It is the responsibility of the customer to land safely there-after"

do you think that would absolve them from lawsuit?

Simply informing customers that you are going to treat them badly or ignore government regulations does not in anyway absolve you from responsibility when your policies cause harm or break the law.

Re:Read it for yourself (1)

BringsApples (3418089) | about 10 months ago | (#45860137)

No, I totally agree with you. My post was more tongue-in-cheek than anything. I don't use facebook, because back when it first came out I felt that such a free service was hiding something, and the only real possibility was data-mining (at the time, I seriously thought that I coined that phrase 'data-mining'). I was asked by so many friends "Why don't you get on facebook?" and I always told them that I didn't want to be used for data-mining. They'd laugh, and tell me that I needed a tinfoil hat.

I think it's outright stupid to join facebook, especially when they warn you in advance that they're using you for profit. But to answer your question about the car dealership, if there was cars like that, and folks bought them in the same way that folks blindly sign up for facebook, then you'd be rich, and I'd love you for getting rid of a large percentage of idiots, by way of an ejection seat.

Realistic expectations... (4, Informative)

QuietLagoon (813062) | about 10 months ago | (#45859327)

... But when the services are provided free of charge, does the user have a realistic expectation of privacy or security,...

The user should have a realistic expectation that the service will abide by the Terms of service. This holds true whether or not the service is free or costs one's first-born child.

.
So the discussion here should really center around how this alleged behavior violates facebook's terms of service.

Re:Realistic expectations... (1)

Kimomaru (2579489) | about 10 months ago | (#45859491)

You can't call the messages private when they're not. It's like selling Vegan burgers made from Kangaroo - it just doesn't work.

Re:Realistic expectations... (3, Funny)

ApplePy (2703131) | about 10 months ago | (#45859521)

Yeah... aren't they supposed to be made from vegans?

I hope this lawsuit gets thrown out. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45859539)

I should add that I am not a Facebook user, or a Facebook employee,
nor have I ever been nor will I ever be.

I'm tired of idiots doing stupid things and then wasting the time of the court
system attempting to be compensated for their own idiotic behavior.

If you use Facebook, you deserve NO privacy. Did you really think it
was free ? Well, it isn't. The price is your information. YOU and YOUR INFO
ARE THE PRODUCT FACEBOOK SELLS, YOU MORONS.

.

Good luck with that (4, Insightful)

Weaselmancer (533834) | about 10 months ago | (#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:Good luck with that (3, Informative)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about 10 months ago | (#45859725)

I have a house, my house rules, nobody made you come over and I didn't charge you to get in... yet, when I punch you in the face, I still go to jail.

Re:Good luck with that (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45859969)

Not necessarily. Did you provide the GP with a Terms of Service/Access document that stated you would punch him in the face and he agree to the terms? If so, then you are free to punch him in the face. Otherwise, voluntary BDSM would be de facto illegal and doms would go to jail. Also, unpaid amature wrestling or boxing would be illegal. One is agreeing to be assaulted and battered by the other. This is very much like mutual combat, which is perfectly legal in many jurisdiction and as long as the combatants don't disturb the peace and good order, i.e. fight in private.

Facebook != private. Never did. (2)

Jawnn (445279) | about 10 months ago | (#45859749)

One would have to be more than a little clueless to expect any privacy at all when it comes to Facebook. Sadly, it is clear that the clueless are legion.

Terms of Service and the lack of knowledge! (2)

SirAudioMan (2836381) | about 10 months ago | (#45859759)

People always act surprised when they find out social media or similar services mine, distribute and sell their data. People fail to realize that the ToS legally allows these companies to do whatever they want with it (except for violating certain laws). Unfortunately, we live in a society where the instantaneous gratification of signing up for these services means people don't take the time to read these ToS. Let's be honest, who has ever taken the time (myself included) to read the Tos, EULA, etc of a product or service. We just blindly assume these companies can be trusted. I do try to exercise lots of caution and don't put personal or private stuff on Facebook, etc. It's gotta pass the grandmother test meaning what would my grandmother say if she saw it.

What I would like to see are new laws governing more transparency requiring clearer language instead of lengthy legalese and jargon. On any service you are always given the option of reading the ToS before clicking agree. As silly as it sounds, perhaps we need a system where users are forcefully presented with clear terms presented in a similar fashion as the side effects of medication as mandated by the FDA in TV commercials. Also, these ToS should not be able to be changed without clear communication as to what the changes are and the possible implications.

However, then perhaps the top 1% wouldn't be as rich as they are...lets remember:

1. Create fancy social media website or service
2. Bury crazy ToS in a long legalese document nobody would read, nevermind understand
3. Follow the ToS to the letter, quoting it when people complain
4. Profit!!!

Mark

Re:Terms of Service and the lack of knowledge! (1)

jittles (1613415) | about 10 months ago | (#45859955)

Unfortunately, we live in a society where the instantaneous gratification of signing up for these services means people don't take the time to read these ToS. Let's be honest, who has ever taken the time (myself included) to read the Tos, EULA, etc of a product or service.

Are you kidding me? IT has nothing to do with instant gratification at all. If I read the EULA or ToS for every single event I went to, for every piece of software I used, or for every online service I had to use for one reason or another, I would never get past boot up on my computer. The ToS on the operating system alone are typically 80+ pages of legalese that mean absolutely nothing to most people. When I bought my house, I read the entire mortgage contract from start to finish. It was 15 pages of legalese and it took me over 2 hours to adequately review the paperwork. That is exactly why I feel like a EULA or ToS should be completely unbinding (other than perhaps the release of liability and what not).

" the intention of selling IS to" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45859935)

No Americans noticed this mistake, of course...

Common Carrier (1)

Mr_Blank (172031) | about 10 months ago | (#45859967)

The brave new world is sorting out what companies, services, and communication mediums are subject to Common Carrier [wikipedia.org] regulations. If Facebook is a common carrier, then there should be some expectation of privacy. If not, then not.

Facebook (and many service providers) are currently and deliberately in a gray zone. If they are not common carriers then they can do whatever they please with the goods (electrons, bits) that they transport because it is their own private property once you hand it to them; per the terms of service. That is good for business because people are handing over "free" stuff that the companies can turn into profits.

However, if companies are not common carriers and they own whatever is handed to them then they are subject to intellectual property violations, libel suits, fourth amendment oddities, and other violation of the law. A telephone company is not criminally prosecuted when land lines are used to break laws; a common carrier is immune to prosecution for what is transmitted. The lawsuits resulting from not being a common carrier could be bad for business.

In the long run, the market could sort this out. If some companies clearly are common carriers and some are not then consumers can decide. Or, it can stay muddled long enough for the gray area to become its own class according to judicial precedent, law, and the public.

Permitted under the TOS...? (1)

Miros (734652) | about 10 months ago | (#45860017)

While you are allowing us to use the information we receive about you, you always own all of your information. Your trust is important to us, which is why we don't share information we receive about you with others unless we have:

  • received your permission;
  • given you notice, such as by telling you about it in this policy; or
  • removed your name and any other personally identifying information from it.

https://www.facebook.com/about/privacy/your-info [facebook.com]

Have to be careful of those "or" situations.

News at 11 (1)

spacefight (577141) | about 10 months ago | (#45860109)

This is Facebook - FB is public and any large public company gets sued all the time. Please move on, there's nothing to see here...

Your own fault (1)

koan (80826) | about 10 months ago | (#45860133)

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his company are suddenly facing a big new round of scrutiny and criticism about their cavalier attitude toward user privacy. An early instant messenger exchange Mark had with a college friend won’t help put these concerns to rest. According to SAI sources, the following exchange is between a 19-year-old Mark Zuckerberg and a friend shortly after Mark launched The Facebook in his dorm room:

Zuck: Yeah so if you ever need info about anyone at Harvard

Zuck: Just ask.

Zuck: I have over 4,000 emails, pictures, addresses, SNS

[Redacted Friend's Name]: What? How’d you manage that one?

Zuck: People just submitted it.

Zuck: I don’t know why.

Zuck: They “trust me”

Zuck: Dumb fucks.

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