Originally published: February 11, 2010
Last updated: February 11, 2010 - 8:46pm
Facebook has been hit with two new potential class-action lawsuits stemming from recent revisions to its privacy settings. The cases, filed recently in federal district court in San Jose, Calif. on behalf of nine Facebook users, allege that the new settings are "confusing and materially deceptive" and lessened their privacy.
"Facebook has violated the privacy rights of the members of the Facebook Web site, misappropriated their personal information, and converted that information for commercial use by means of materially deceptive conduct," the complaints allege. Late last year, Facebook sparked controversy by classifying a host of data as "publicly available information" -- including users' names, profile pictures, cities, networks, lists of friends and pages that people are fans of. Facebook also changed the default settings for many users to share-everything, spurring criticism that users who reviewed their settings quickly and accepted the defaults might inadvertently share more than they had intended. The consumers who sued allege that the opt-out controls offered by Facebook are "misleading and very difficult for them to use." "There are at least 29 different privacy settings spread out over numerous web pages," they allege. "The privacy setting procedures are grossly ineffective and users are misled into allowing Facebook to having their personal information easily accessed for commercial use, exposing them to identity theft, harassment, embarrassment, intrusion and all types of cybercrime." Facebook spokesperson Andrew Noyes said the company is confident that its transition process "was transparent, consistent with people's expectations, and well within the law." He added: "Any recommended changes to a person's privacy settings were clearly shown to them repeatedly and were not implemented until they accepted these changes.