Facebook Message-Scanning Class Settlement Gets Final OK

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By Jimmy H. Koo

Facebook Inc. has received final federal court approval of changes to its data collection practices to settle class claims that it systemically scanned users’ private messages ( Campbell v. Facebook, Inc. , 2015 BL 290958, N.D. Cal., No. 13-cv-05996-PJH, 8/18/17 ).

The case shows that companies such as Facebook that assert they will keep customer communications private ultimately may face consumer demands that they keep such promises, and litigation if the descriptions of how their communications will be monitored aren’t accurate.

The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California Aug. 18 approved the no-fault settlement, including up to $3.89 million in plaintiffs’ attorneys’ fees.

The case arose from allegations that Facebook scanned users’ private messages and, if a message contained a link to a website, treated it as a “like” for the linked page.

Under the settlement agreement, Facebook won’t collect demographic and other personal information associated with sharing links in Facebook messages. The company agreed to tell consumers that it uses “tools to identify and store links shared in messages, including a count of the number of times links are shared.”

Establishing links to websites to show Facebook’s clout with potential advertisers is an essential part of the social media giant’s business model. Facebook had 1.9 billion global unique desktop visitors in June, according to Bloomberg data.

Although the Menlo Park, Calif.-based company won’t have to pay money as a part of the settlement, nothing in the agreement prevents subscribers from suing for monetary damages.

Facebook didn’t respond to Bloomberg BNA’s email request for comments.

Facebook is represented by Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP. Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein LLP and Carney Bates & Pulliam Pllc represented the proposed settlement class.

To contact the reporter on this story: Jimmy H. Koo in Washington at jkoo@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Donald Aplin at daplin@bna.com

For More Information

Full text of the court approval is available at http://src.bna.com/rPV.

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