August 19, 2009

Five People Sue Facebook For Sharing Info

Five Californians have filed a lawsuit against social network Facebook, claiming that it violates their right to privacy.

Filed Monday in Orange County Superior Court, the suit seeks damages, attorney's fees and a jury trial in the case.

The five plaintiffs have charged Facebook with violating privacy laws by gathering and sharing personal information of its users with third party groups as well as taking part in data mining procedures.

"Plaintiffs and the general public desire and expect a level of privacy, which Facebook has failed to satisfy under its current policies, procedures, practices, and technology," the 40-page complaint reads.

Plaintiffs include two middle school students, a photographer, an actress, and a college student.

"We see no merit to this suit and we plan to fight it," Facebook spokesman Barry Schnitt said in a written statement.

However, Facebook has been in a similar situation before. Earlier this year, the Palo Alto, Calif.-based firm edited its terms of service in order to please its users who voiced concerns over unannounced changes that basically gave Facebook ownership to all information on the network.

One plaintiff in the new case opened a Facebook account without his parents' consent. He then "uploaded personal information, videos and photographs, including swimming and/or partially clothed photographs of children ages 5 to 11," according to the complaint.

The young plaintiff, referred to as "Xavier O." also posted a status earlier this month saying: "Xavier O. has swine flu"¦ Please pray for me"¦ God Bless."

Another complaint comes from Elvina Beck, described in the filing as "an accomplished actress and model residing in Los Angeles, California."

"Plaintiff Beck's digital images have been disseminated by Facebook without her consent, knowledge, or compensation," according to the complaint.

TechCrunch's Jason Kincaid found the lawsuit to be baseless.

"Plaintiffs in the case appear to have engaged in run of the mill socializing on Facebook: sharing photos, writing status updates and similar things. They're then complaining that privacy, copyright and other rights are violated as people look at the photos, read the updates, etc.," wrote Kincaid.

"It's sort of like jumping into a pool and then complaining that you're wet," he added.


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