After more than a year of legal fees and litigation, Facebook has finally seen the course of what their class action lawsuit will entail for them, and now they're commenting back.
Now you might view Facebook as the protectors of your dirty little secrets, or even the social media source connecting you to your friends worldwide, but a new class-action lawsuit the company faces alleges that Facebook employs have been scanning users' messages for information-and your messages may have been hacked too.
US Federal District Judge Phyllis Hamilton announced on Tuesday, in owner Mark Zuckerberg's hometown of Oakland, California, that state-law claims against the media company would be dropped, but that Facebook would still have to face charges against what they did to their users. Though Facebook argued that the alleged scanning of users' private messaging conversations in search of information regarding private advertising was covered by an exception under federal acts, Hamilton denied Facebook's bid to dismiss the lawsuit and set a date where the case could further be discussed.
"[Facebook has] not offered a sufficient explanation of how the challenged practice falls within the ordinary course of its business" Hamilton said.
In a press release issued early this afternoon Facebook announced that their privacy policies will soon be amended to discuss concerns arising out of the lawsuit. Though the company's new features and controls may not necessarily protect you from the techy's behind-the-scenes at Facebook itself.
"Over the past year, we've introduced new features and controls to help you get more out of Facebook, and listened to people who have asked us to better explain how we get and use information" spokespersons from Facebook said in the press release. "Now, with Privacy Basics, you'll get tips and a how-to guide for taking charge of your experience on Facebook. We're also updating our terms, data policy and cookies policy to reflect new features we've been working on and to make them easy to understand."
The lawsuit filed in 2013 by Facebook user Matthew Campbell alleges that Facebook scans the contents of private messages looking for links to other websites, which would then be used to deliver more target advertising to its users. And while according to Facebook, and Tuesday's court ruling, the company ceased this practice in October 2012, the company does not defend that they do not continue to search through private messages as a part of their everyday practices. The company claims that some analyses of messages continue, as a precaution, to better protect users against any spam and viruses that may be embedded in the content.
Expected to take effect on January 30, 2015, the new terms and policies may better address the issue for clarity, but as often is the case, does not offer an alternative to opt out of such activity. So it appears that for now, until Judge Hamilton or another court officials deems it illegal that Facebook continues with its activity, the only way to be sure that your conversations are truly private is to log off of Facebook and log back on to real-life dialogues.