A proposed class action lawsuit alleges Gaia, Inc., formerly Gaiam, has unlawfully disclosed subscribers’ personal information to Facebook without their knowledge or consent.
The 24-page case more specifically claims Gaia, a digital streaming company who offers a “vast and growing library” of video materials about yoga, transformation, alternative healing and mindfulness on Gaia.com and YogaInternational.com, has installed Facebook tracking software on its websites to collect and disclose subscribers’ information for advertising purposes.
The lawsuit elaborates that Facebook then uses this information to build “detailed profiles” about Gaia subscribers, which enables the defendant to “serve them with targeted advertisements on Facebook” and otherwise bolsters the company’s Facebook advertising efforts.
Among the information disclosed to Facebook are the titles of videos subscribers have viewed on the defendant’s websites and their Facebook ID, a unique identifier that can be used to locate a person’s Facebook profile, the suit alleges.
According to the case, Gaia’s failure to obtain consent before sharing information about subscribers’ video viewing habits with a third party is a violation of the Video Privacy Protection Act (VPPA), a federal law that prohibits “video tape service providers” from knowingly disclosing consumers’ personally identifiable information.
The tracking software at issue is known as the Facebook pixel, a piece of code a company can embed on its website to collect information about how visitors interact with the site, the lawsuit relays. Per the case, Gaia has directed the Facebook pixel on Gaia.com and YogaInternational.com to record certain information about its more than 800,000 subscribers, including the titles of videos they watch on the sites.
With the Facebook pixel, Gaia discloses to the social media giant “in a single transmission” the titles and URLs of videos a subscriber has viewed and their Facebook ID, the complaint says. Per the suit, a user’s Facebook ID can allow “any ordinary person” to look up the subscriber’s Facebook profile and learn that person’s identity. Combined with a video title, a Facebook ID enables Facebook, or anyone else for that matter, to identify an individual subscriber and link them to the specific video materials they’ve watched on one of Gaia’s websites, the case says.
“Accordingly, Defendant violates the VPPA by knowingly disclosing its subscribers’ [Facebook IDs] alongside the specific accessed videos to Facebook,” the complaint contends.
“Neither document discloses that Defendant collects and transmits the specific subscriber [personally identifiable information] at issue herein to Facebook,” the complaint states.
The lawsuit looks to represent anyone in the U.S. who subscribed to Gaia or Yoga International and accessed video content on either website (or app) while having a Facebook account.
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