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Class Action Suit Claims Facebook Invades Privacy, Sells Personal Information

from – Facebook invades the privacy of its customers and misappropriates people’s images and personal information for marketing and commercial purposes, a class action claims in Orange County Court, Calif. The class claims Facebook’s “unconscionable” terms and conditions allow it to compile an extraordinary amount of data from users, and permits third parties access to a gold mine of information without users’ knowledge or consent.

“Data collected from Facebook users is the key commercial asset that Facebook uses for market valuation, internal marketing purposes, and for licensing and direct sale of data to third parties,” according to the complaint.

Professional photographer Elisha Melkonian says Facebook permitted her photos to be downloaded, copied and distributed without her permission, despite her fruitless attempts to stop it.

Melkonian says she is concerned that Facebook has stored personal information posted by her 11-year-old son, including “partially clothed photographs of children aged 5 to 11” who were swimming.

She claims Facebook has received “thousands” of complaints from users concerned about unauthorized use of their information and photos.

Melkonian says that Facebook knows its users do not want their personal information circulated around cyberspace, yet its terms of use allow Facebook to retain users’ posted data long after it has been taken off of the site.

Melkonian says she recently removed one of her son’s postings in which he revealed he might have swine flu, and has been “unable to learn where (his) medical information may have been stored, disseminated or sold by Facebook.”

She claims Facebook’s terms and conditions are misleading, as they do not clearly specify how Facebook stores or uses such sensitive material as contact information, date of birth, email addresses and phone numbers, which puts users at risk of identity theft.

“The statement that ‘Facebook does not sell your information is misleading and false,'” Melkonian says. “Facebook has misled users with policies that imply that users are in control of their personal data.”

She wants Facebook enjoined from collecting or selling user data and from permitting downloading of copyrighted photos without permission. She also seeks class damages of $750 for every unauthorized use of names or photos.

The class is represented in Orange County Court by Dana Taschner with the Lanier Law Firm of Los Angeles.


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