Facebook was slapped with a lawsuit that hinged on the fact that it violated privacy laws in regard to scanning private messages as reported by the Verge.
According to the publication, the lawsuit pointed out that the plaintiffs alleged that Facebook scans contents of private messages and if there is a link to a webpage, Facebook interprets that as a like of that page where the page’s like increases by one. In addition, apparently Facebook uses this information to come up with profiles of users which is used for ad targeting. Facebook’s activity in this case apparently violates the US Electronic Communications Privacy Act.
There is more. The plaintiffs described 3 ways how the message data is used. The first is to used to measure engagement and making recommendations where the company keeps a tally of the number of times that link is used. The second use is sharing of that data to third parties which allows them to customize content or make targeted ads to their visitors. The third use is the increased like count where if you send a message with a link, Facebook counts that as actually clicking like on the website.
The Verge obtained a statement from Facebook regarding the matter:
We agree with the court’s finding that the alleged conduct did not result in any actual harm and it would be inappropriate to allow plaintiffs to seek damages on a class-wide basis. The remaining claims relate to historical practices that are entirely lawful, and we look forward to resolving those claims on merits.