Chick-Fil-A faces a proposed class action that alleges the chicken-centric restaurant secretly shares with Facebook certain details about the videos consumers watch on Chick-Fil-A.com.
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The 16-page lawsuit says that whenever someone watches a video on Chick-Fil-A’s website, the restaurant “secretly report[s]” their personally identifiable information, the titles of videos they watched and more to Facebook for the dual purpose of data harvesting and targeted advertising. Chick-Fil-A accomplishes this by way of a tracking pixel embedded into the back-end programming code of its website, the filing states.
The suit, filed in California’s Northern District Court on January 22, alleges Chick-Fil-A has run afoul of the Video Privacy Protection Act of 1988, a federal law that prohibits a “video tape service provider” from disclosing about an individual information that identifies them as having “requested or obtained specific video materials or services.”
“As such, [Chick-Fil-A is] liable to each class member for $2,500 and related damages,” the suit contends.
Facebook, owned by Meta Platforms, generates money by selling ad space on its platform “based upon its ability to identify user interests,” the case relays. Per the suit, Facebook can pinpoint a user’s interests by monitoring their “offsite” activity, allowing the platform to judge what they’re into “beyond what they freely disclose.”
A tool Facebook provides to advertisers such as Chick-Fil-A is the ability to identify consumers who have already shown interest in their business, a “custom audience” that requires an advertiser to supply user data to Facebook, the filing explains. Most advertisers do so by way of the “Facebook Pixel” found in the code of their websites, the suit says.
“Once activated, the Facebook Tracking Pixel ‘tracks the people and type of actions they take.’ When the Facebook Tracking Pixel captures an action, it sends a record to Facebook, which Facebook then assimilates into the Custom Audiences dataset.”
The plaintiff is described in the complaint as a “consumer privacy advocate” who watched a video on Chick-Fil-A’s website out of genuine interest and to check whether the company abides by VPPA regulations.
The lawsuit looks to cover all persons in the United States who are consumers under the VPPA and who watched video content on EvergreenHills.com—which automatically reroutes to Chick-Fil-A.com—or any other website owned, run or controlled by Chick-Fil-A and whose personally identifiable information was disclosed to Facebook or any other third party.
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