Facebook plans to "vigorously" fight South Tahoe man’s lawsuit | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Facebook plans to "vigorously" fight South Tahoe man’s lawsuit

Adam Jensen

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. – A South Lake Tahoe man has filed a lawsuit against popular social networking website Facebook.com, claiming the company divulged personal information to advertisers against its own privacy policy.

David Gould filed the lawsuit against Facebook in federal court in San Jose on May 29. He is seeking class action status for the suit.

The suit seeks more than $5 million in damages for Gould and any Facebook user who clicked on a third-party advertisement while using the site between Feb. 4, 2004 and May 21, 2010.

When Facebook users clicked on an advertisement during that time, the website sent the advertiser a “Referrer Header” including the user ID of the person clicking the add, according to the suit.

The “Referrer Header” allowed the advertiser to navigate back to the user’s page and “gain the ultimate demographic information: users’ true identities, including real name, gender, friends, interests, and more. All in violation of Facebook’s own Privacy Policy,” according to the suit.

The lawsuit contends Facebook has known about advertisers’ access to users’ personal information since August 2009, but hasn’t done anything to fix the problem.

Facebook spokesman Andrew Noyes said the social networking site would fight the suit in a Wednesday e-mail.

“We believe this complaint is without merit and we will fight it vigorously,” Noyes wrote in the message.

Facebook has come under fire in recent months for changes to its privacy policy. Critics contend the social networking site has not been upfront with it’s users regarding how information they post to the site would be used.

Noyes defended the website’s policies in the e-mail, pointing to recent changes in how users can control information they post to the site.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced the changes in a blog post last week.

“When we started Facebook, we built it around a few simple ideas,” Zuckerberg wrote in a statement regarding the changes. “When people have control over what they share, they want to share more. When people share more, the world becomes more open and connected. Over the past few weeks, the number one thing we’ve heard is that many users want a simpler way to control their information. Today we’re starting to roll out changes that will make our controls simpler and easier.”

The lawsuit takes a less utopian view of the social networking site.

“In many ways, Facebook is accomplishing its official mission,” according to the suit. “Facebook users share unprecedented personal information through the service. And while users may do so in order to connect with other Facebook users, they are also sharing this information with Facebook. And all this personal information is valuable to Facebook because it is valuable to advertisers.”

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