Facebook Tracking Lawsuit Judge Says Keeping Online Activity Private Is Users’ Responsibility

A U.S. judge has dismissed a lawsuit against Facebook accusing it of tracking users’ internet usage between April 22, 2010, and Sept. 26, 2011, regardless if they’ve logged out of the network.

U.S. District Judge Edward Davila on Friday, June 30, stated that the plaintiffs didn’t manage to prove that they had “reasonable expectation of privacy,” or suffered “realistic” economic harm or loss.

Facebook Privacy Lawsuit: What You Need To Know

As The Guardian reports, the plaintiffs alleged that Facebook leveraged “like” buttons found on other websites to track which sites they visited, which essentially meant that the world’s largest social media network could create a detailed documentation of their online activity and browsing history. This, argued the plaintiffs, broke federal and state privacy and wiretapping laws.

It works this way: when you stumble upon an article on the web you’d like to share on Facebook, oftentimes there’d already be integrated “buttons” you can click on to share the said article directly to various channels, including Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, and more. When a user visits a site with a like button, the browser sends information to two places: to Facebook and the server where the page is stored.

The plaintiffs argued that Facebook’s alleged tracking of sites broke federal and state privacy and wiretapping laws. Davila did not agree.

“The fact that a user’s web browser automatically sends the same information to both parties does not establish that one party intercepted the user’s communication with the other,” he said.

The lawsuit adds that Facebook had promised that cookies are deleted when a user logs out. However, the site continued to receive the information until a researcher spilled the beans on Facebook’s behavior in 2011.

Plaintiffs Could Have Blocked Facebook’s Intrusions But Chose Not To: Judge

He also stated that the plaintiffs could have gone out of their way to keep their online activity private, either by using Incognito mode on their preferred browser, or by using an opt-out tool by the Digital Advertising Alliance. But in the end, the judge said they failed to prove that the social media network illegally “intercepted” or eavesdropped on their interactions.

Unfortunately, the plaintiffs can’t go to court again with privacy invasion and wiretapping claims, but what they could do is pursue a renewed breach of contract claim, according to Davila.

The same judge previously had dismissed an earlier version of the lawsuit back in 2015.

Thoughts about the privacy lawsuit against Facebook? What about online activity-based targeted advertising, which seems to be the underlying motivation in this case, suppose Facebook’s behavior is true? As always, feel free to sound off in the comments section below if you have any thoughts or opinions!