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Campbell v Facebook

Campbell v Facebook

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Published by CNET News
Just how private are your Facebook messages? A new suit charges that the company mines your messages for profit.
Just how private are your Facebook messages? A new suit charges that the company mines your messages for profit.

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Categories:Types, Business/Law
Published by: CNET News on Jan 02, 2014
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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1147096.1
 
CLASS ACTION COMPLAINT
Michael W. Sobol (State Bar No. 194857) msobol@lchb.com Melissa Gardner (State Bar No. 289096) mgardner@lchb.com LIEFF CABRASER HEIMANN & BERNSTEIN, LLP 275 Battery Street, 29th Floor San Francisco, CA 94111-3339 Telephone: 415.956.1000 Facsimile: 415.956.1008 Rachel Geman rgeman@lchb.com  Nicholas Diamand ndiamand@lchb.com LIEFF CABRASER HEIMANN & BERNSTEIN, LLP 250 Hudson Street, 8th Floor  New York, NY 10013-1413 Telephone: 212.355.9500 Facsimile: 212.355.9592 Hank Bates (State Bar No. 167688) hbates@cbplaw.com Allen Carney acarney@cbplaw.com David Slade dslade@cbplaw.com CARNEY BATES & PULLIAM, PLLC 11311 Arcade Drive Little Rock, AR 72212 Telephone: 501.312.8500 Facsimile: 501.312.8505
 Attorneys for Plaintiffs
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT  NORTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA MATTHEW CAMPBELL and MICHAEL HURLEY, on behalf of themselves and all others similarly situated 
 ,
 Plaintiffs, v. FACEBOOK, INC., Defendant. Case No. ________
CLASS ACTION COMPLAINT
Case4:13-cv-05996-PJH Document1 Filed12/30/13 Page1 of 36
 
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1147096.1
 - 1 -
CLASS ACTION COMPLAINT
CLASS ACTION COMPLAINT I.
 
INTRODUCTION
1.
 
The right of privacy is a personal and fundamental right in California
1
 and the United States.
2
 An individual’s privacy is directly implicated by the collection, use, and dissemination of personal information. Defendant Facebook, Inc. (“Facebook” or “the Company”) has systematically violated consumers’ privacy by reading its users’ personal, private Facebook messages without their consent. 2.
 
Facebook is a social-networking site that boasts more than one billion users worldwide, making it the largest online social network in the world. 3.
 
Across the various services it offers, Facebook takes pains to promise a stark distinction in the types of communications it facilitates. Users may choose to communicate  publicly via individual Facebook pages, or privately via personal messages and chats.
3
 4.
 
Specifically, Facebook describes communication options “[d]epending on whom you’d like to share with.” The options range from the broadest possible audience (a post which the public may see, including via searches on the internet), to posts viewable by small groups of friends, to Facebook messages shared “privately” with a single individual.
4
 Facebook touts the  privacy of its messaging function as “unprecedented” in terms of user control and the prevention of unwanted contact.
5
 
1
 CAL. CONST., Art. I, § 1, adopted as ballot measure in 1972 (“All people are by nature free and independent and have inalienable rights. Among these are enjoying and defending life and liberty, acquiring, possessing, and protecting property, and pursuing and obtaining safety, happiness, and privacy.”).
See also
 
 Am. Acad. of Pediatrics v. Lungren
, 16 Cal. 4th 307, 326 (1997) (“[T]he scope and application of the state constitutional right of privacy is broader and more protective of privacy than the federal constitutional right of privacy as interpreted by the federal courts.”).
2
 
 Dep’t of Justice v. Reporters Comm. for Freedom of the Press
, 489 U.S. 749, 763 (1989) (“both the common law and the literal understandings of privacy encompass the individual’s control of information concerning his or her person”);
Whalen
 
v. Roe
, 429 U.S. 589, 605 (1977).
3
 The distinction between “messages” and “chats” on Facebook is one of timing: chats happen in real-time and often give the appearance of conversation, whereas messages act more like email.
4
 
 Help Center: Get Started on Facebook: How to Post & Share
5
 Joel Seligstein,
See the Messages that Matter,
Case4:13-cv-05996-PJH Document1 Filed12/30/13 Page2 of 36
 
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1147096.1
 - 2 -
CLASS ACTION COMPLAINT
5.
 
Contrary to its representations, “private” Facebook messages are systematically intercepted by the Company in an effort to learn the contents of the users’ communications. In the course of the last year, independent security researchers discovered that Facebook reviews the contents of its users’ private Facebook messages for purposes unrelated to the facilitation of message transmission. When a user composes a Facebook message and includes a link to a third  party website (a “URL”)
6
, the Company scans the content of the Facebook message, follows the enclosed link, and searches for information to profile the message-sender’s web activity. 6.
 
This practice is not done to facilitate the transmission of users’ communications via Facebook, but because it enables Facebook to mine user data and profit from those data by sharing them with third parties – namely, advertisers, marketers, and other data aggregators. 7.
 
Representing to users that the content of Facebook messages is “private” creates an especially profitable opportunity for Facebook, because users who believe they are communicating on a service free from surveillance are likely to reveal facts about themselves that they would not reveal had they known the content was being monitored. Thus, Facebook has  positioned itself to acquire pieces of the users’ profiles that are likely unavailable to other data aggregators. 8.
 
Almost the entirety of Facebook’s revenues derive from the sale of third party advertisements, which the Company is able to target towards its users based upon the personal data it mines and stores. In 2011, Facebook earned $2.7 billion from targeted advertising sales. The more otherwise-unavailable information the Company can collect about its users – including the contents of their private communications – the more valuable its advertising capacity. Accordingly, Facebook promotes itself as a rich source of information about the people who use the site, one which allows businesses to “reach the right people,” through selective targeting of
6
 A “URL,” or “uniform resource locator” is also known as a “web address.” It is a character string that refers to a specific resource or location on the Internet. For example, www.nytimes.com” is the URL for the
 New York Times’
 home page.
Case4:13-cv-05996-PJH Document1 Filed12/30/13 Page3 of 36

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