Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) has been sued for allegedly allegedly monitoring and selling users’ private messages without their consent. The lawsuit has been filed by Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) users Matthew Campbell and Michael Hurley in California, and seeks class action status. The suit alleges that when a user shares a link to another website through private messages, the social networking giant scans it as part of monitoring the sender’s web activity.


Facebook misleads its users

The complaint cites independent research, which reveales that Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) misleads users and reviews their private messages for purposes other than message transmission. Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) misleads users by representing that their messages are private. Users think it’s free of surveillance. So, they reveal facts in messages that they are unlikely to reveal if they knew that their messages are monitored.

Thus, the company gains important user data that other data aggregators lack. Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) sells this data to marketers, advertisers and data aggregators. The lawsuit claims $100 per day for each day of violations or $10,000 per user, whichever is greater. Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) said the allegations are baseless, and the company will defend itself vigorously in court.

Is Facebook doing the right thing?

A few others also defended the company. Security expert Graham Cluley said that Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) is doing the right thing by scanning users’ private messages. He said if the social networking giant doesn’t scan links in private messages, there will be very high risk of scams, spam and phishing attacks. What Cluley doesn’t mention is the purpose behind scanning user data.

Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB)’s privacy policy has come under attack several times in the past. In September 2013, the company was criticized for proposing privacy policy changes that would have allowed the company to create ads using profile pictures and names of its users. The company had to change wordings in its privacy policy in 2011 after a lawsuit claims to pay $20 million to users who claimed that Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) had used their private data without permission.

Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) shares jumped 0.36% to $54.91 at 12:48 PM EST.