Unliking Facebook

by Sue Halpern

Dislike Facebook

Anyone who has ever read Facebook’s privacy policy–and that probably would not include you–understands that it is not meant to protect your privacy, but provide Facebook and its clients with access to you, your habits, your contacts, your life. This kind of access is the lifeblood of Facebook (read: money), so attempting to indemnify itself against any claims of invasiveness is crucial. This, of course, has not exempted the company from lawsuits, as well as from less formal but no less vociferous user discontent. A quick search on the website of the Electronic Frontier Foundation is a lesson in the thrust and parry around privacy that’s accompanied Facebook’s remarkable insinuation into the culture.

Earlier this summer, a young Austrian law student named Maximilian Schrems filed a class action lawsuit against Facebook which has draw an unprecedented number of claimants.

As Malarie Gokey writes, 60,000 people have now joined young Schrems:

According to the advocate’s site, the Vienna Regional Court in Austria has reviewed the case and commanded Facebook Ireland to respond to the charges within four weeks. Facebook’s international efforts are based in Ireland and serve 80 percent of its users worldwide.

Shortly after Schrems announced the lawsuit and called upon Europeans and anyone outside the U.S. and Canada to join him, the lawsuit reached its maximum number of claimants with 25,000 people joining the suit. An additional 35,000 pledged their support for the privacy lawsuit, should it be expanded to include more claimants, bringing the total number of people suing Facebook for violating privacy laws above 60,000.

Among other things, Schrems is suing Facebook for providing user data (including private messages) to the National Security Agency for its massive, data-mining PRISM program. He is also hoping to hold Facebook’s collective feet to the EU Data-Protection Directive fire, which is meant to protect European Union citizens from the very kinds of intrusive activities practiced by both the NSA and Facebook. (The US has nothing comparable.) “Our aim is to make Facebook finally operate lawfully in the area of data protection,” he said.

Another suit against Facebook, this one closer to home:

A Texas woman is suing Facebook for $123 million dollars. Allegedly, the social media company failed to take down a fake profile that was created with the intent to publicly humiliate her. The woman, Meryem Ali, claims that the profile displayed her name alongside photos of her face photoshopped onto pornographic images.

(Photo by zeevveez.)