The book 1984 by George Orwell, when it was first released in 1949, described a world few thought possible: a controlling government monitors not only individual communication but also implied thoughts; media was manipulated to portray a happy picture that promoted state interests, avoiding negative news; privacy was a thing of the past.

Facebook europe

Facebook violated European privacy laws

Fast forward to August, 2014 and a class action lawsuit involving Facebook, a firm that is reported to manipulate its news feed to censor negative news posts and that works with the NSA to spy on its users. Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) has been accused of using double speak in its privacy policy and violating European privacy laws.

This lawsuit, previously reported in ValueWalk, is now getting significant legs.

The Vienna Regional Court, where the suit was filed, has reviewed the case, assigned it validity and has turned to Facebook’s Ireland headquarters for a response.  The social media company, whose Irish headquarters cover 80 percent of users, will now have four weeks to respond to the court’s request, according to a report in TechCrunch.

The group behind the lawsuit now has over 60,000 people who have signed up. 25,000 of claimants have assigned their claims to join the class action, and 35,000 of which have registered to assign their claims when and if the suit widens to cover more users, the report says.

Facebook faces a monetary payout

Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) faces a potential small monetary payout on the issue.  The penalty is limited to 25,000 people each of whom can file a €500 per user claim. The loss of a suit, however, would be more damaging to Facebook’s public image, the report noted.

The suit comes on news that Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) censors news content from its website that is negative, as reported in ValueWalk. Facebook has been embroiled in privacy controversy in the US as well, yet nothing seems to slow the apparatus of social media that is documented to not only spy on its users, corroborate with the government and censor news content.

As previously reported, Austrian law student and privacy activist Max Schrems was behind the legal challenge to the social network.  Schrems said Facebook violated Europe’s generally clear privacy laws and disregarded its own terms of agreement when it participated in a general spying program operated by the NSA.

“We see that Facebook is violating EU privacy laws for a very long time and wanted to take action,” said Schrems in a statement to The Christian Science Monitor. “The problems start with a privacy policy that no one understands, [which is] invalid under EU law, up to the NSA spying scandal.”