Facebook Users Sue Meta Over Alleged Privacy Breaches

September 25th, 2022 2:08 PM

New lawsuits claim that Facebook is illegally tracking the behavior of its users.

Ars Technica reported on Thursday the plaintiffs' claims that Facebook actively “conceal[ed] privacy risks, circumventing iOS user privacy choices, and intercepting, monitoring, and recording all activity on third-party websites viewed in Facebook or Instagram's browser.”

Both lawsuits were filed in the United States District Court in the Northern District of California.

On its website, Ars Technica posted the text of the first lawsuit, filed on Sept. 15, 2022. This lawsuit claims Facebook illegally tracks “all user interactions” and that the platform has misrepresented that it does not track users' online activity without permission. Apple recently gave iOS users the ability to specifically ask certain apps not to track their behavior.

“[B]y running custom scripts on third-party websites, Meta [Facebook] can and does intercept, view, monitor, and record all user interactions—every button and link they tap, as well as text selections, screenshots, form inputs (including passwords, addresses, and payment card numbers), other personally identifiable information, protected health details, and other private and confidential communications and data,” the Sept. 15 complaint claims.

The second lawsuit, filed on Sept. 21, 2022, and also listed on Ars Technica’s website, claims that users do not realize that Meta is overriding privacy settings without consent.

“Even users who may realize they are visiting websites from within Facebook’s in-app browser do not realize that this activity overrides their privacy settings and enables Meta to track, intercept, and monitor their activities on the websites as a consequence of Meta’s undisclosed injection of code,” the second lawsuit says. 

The second lawsuit further claims that it is impossible for an average user without advanced knowledge about online privacy to discover this.

“Meta’s JavaScript injection cannot be detected by a lay person, and a website when viewed on Facebook’s in-app browser functions no differently than otherwise,” the second lawsuit alleges.

The complaints use evidence covered in a recent report by iOS privacy expert Felix Krause. Last month, NewsBusters reported that Krause’s report claims the amount of data being collected is “staggering.”

“With 1 Billion active Instagram users, the amount of data Instagram can collect by injecting the tracking code into every third party website opened from the Instagram & Facebook app is a staggering amount,” Krause wrote in the report.

Conversely, Meta said the allegations about its Facebook and Instagram platforms are false.

In a statement to TechCrunch, a Meta spokesperson claimed that the allegations were “without merit” and added that the company would defend itself “vigorously.”

“We have carefully designed our in-app browser to respect users’ privacy choices, including how data may be used for ads,” the spokesperson said in the statement.

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