Potential class action litigation continues to be piled onto Facebook, as the embattled social media platform now faces a lawsuit that alleges it misleads consumers with regard to the tracking, storing, and logging of private location data.
Filed in California federal court, the 25-page complaint alleges that while Facebook purports that users can restrict the tracking of their location data, the company instead continues to track and store such information regardless of a user’s preferences. Through its “Location History” feature, the suit says, Facebook can compile an overview of a user’s precise locations even when the option is turned off. From the case:
“In fact, Facebook secretly tracks, logs, and stores location data for all of its users—including those who have sought to limit the information about their locations that Facebook may store in its servers by choosing to turn Location History off. Because Facebook misleads users and engages in this deceptive practice, collecting and storing private location data against users’ expressed choice, Plaintiff brings this class action on behalf of himself and similarly situated Facebook users.”
The case alleges outright that Facebook is a data aggregation and marketing company that masquerades as a social network. Despite users’ efforts to protect their location privacy, the suit says Facebook has taken to “exploitatively” tracking proposed class members’ whereabouts, storing, for example, information about where users have logged in. All told, Facebook’s alleged privacy protections, the lawsuit argues, simply do not stop the company from having its way with users’ location data:
“For example, Facebook assures users that ‘When Location History is turned off, Facebook will stop adding new information to your Location History which you can view in your Location Settings,’ and promises users that they can ‘delete your previously recorded location from your Location History.’ Facebook also promises users that ‘You’re in control of who sees your location on Facebook Company Products.’ However, the option to turn Location History off is meaningless, since in reality there is no way for users to prevent Facebook from tracking and storing their location information.”
Rather than be truthful to its pledge to maintain integrity when it comes to users’ location data, Facebook instead offers a false sense of security, the case states, leading proposed class members to wrongly believe they’re in control over their personal data. As for what Facebook supposedly uses location data for, the lawsuit points to the obvious: targeted advertising.
“Advertisers pay Facebook to place advertisements because Facebook is so effective at using location information to target advertisements to consumers,” the suit reads. “Facebook’s growth strategy depends on Facebook’s ability to collect, store, and ultimately sell personal consumer data, including location information.”
The lawsuit cites alleged violations of the California Invasion of Privacy Act.