Facebook is getting sued over private messaging data being given to brands

Are your Facebook ads getting eerily personal? Maybe related to things you said in a private message to a fellow Facebook user?

Most people might be used to seeing highly targeted advertising in their Facebook feeds, but it was enough to creep out two Facebook users, who are accusing the platform of using information in private messages to create targeted ads.

Facebook users Matthew Campbell and Michael Hurley filed the suit in a US district court in Northern California, alleging that Facebook mines private messages between users for links and keywords that are sold to advertisers and marketers to create targeted ads. Crucially, the claim is that Facebook does this without the knowledge and consent of its users. Campbell and Hurley are hoping the suit gets support from other users and becomes a class action.

If this outrage sounds familiar, it’s because it’s exactly what happened when users started getting targeted ads in their Gmail accounts, based on what they were writing in their emails. Of course, everyone’s accepted that now, and it would be hard to prove that Facebook is doing anything illegal under California privacy laws, as Campbell and Hurley are trying to do. However, Facebook has had to answer for its targeted ad practice before, it  previously settled a class action over targeted advertising for $20 million.


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