Facebook facing lawsuit over scanning its users’ messages

Facebook is facing a lawsuit accusing the social-networking site of breaching the privacy of its users by scanning the content of their messages.

US District Judge Phyllis Hamilton in Oakland, California, rejected some state-law claims against Facebook but denied the company’s bid to dismiss the lawsuit.

In its defense, Facebook said that scanning the messages of its users was covered by an exception under the federal Electronic Communications Privacy Act for interceptions by service providers occurring in the ordinary course of business.

However, Hamilton said that the company did not offer “a sufficient explanation of how the challenged practice falls within the ordinary course of its business.”

Facebook will now have to face a class-action lawsuit over violating users’ privacy laws.

The lawsuit was originally filed last year, it accused Facebook of scanning private messages sent between users for links to websites.

The company counted links in a tally of “likes” of the pages. The “likes” that the company gathered were used to put together user profiles and then used it for placing targeted advertising to its users.

In addition, the complaint claimed that by scanning private messages without the users’ consent Facebook violated federal and California state law.

According to the ruling of the judge, Facebook ceased the practice at issue in October 2012.

But Facebook admitted that it still performs some analysis of private messages to protect against viruses and spam. Spam refers to electronic junk mail.

The lawsuit was filed by Facebook user Matthew Campbell and seeks class-action status. The case is Campbell v. Facebook Inc, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California, No. 13-5996.