Facebook Sued by Scottsdale Woman, Sharon Beatty, Over Site's Tracking of Web Browsing History While Logged Off; Class Action Ruling Sought
Facebook calls it a glitch, but a Scottsdale woman and her Phoenix lawyer want to be compensated for the social media site's surreptitious tracking of Web browsing history.
Former state Attorney General Grant Woods filed the federal complaint on Friday for his client, Sharon Beatty of Scottsdale. But Woods is asking for the complaint to designated as a class action suit -- on behalf of 150 million U.S. Facebook users.
The new complaint, filed Friday, takes advantage of the furor over revelations this month about how Facebook tracks the browsing habits of Web users even if they're not logged in to Facebook.
An Australian technology blogger, Nik Cubrilovic, exposed the info-gathering problem in a September 25 article. Cubrilovic reported:
Even if you are logged out, Facebook still knows and can track every page you visit that has Facebook integrated. The only solution is to delete every Facebook cookie in your browser, or to use a separate browser for Facebook interactions.
Facebook responded to questions by announcing that it intended to fix the cookie problem, and that user identification info wasn't stored by the company when users were logged out.
Concern over the issue isn't going away anytime soon: Two Congressmen and advocacy groups are asking the Federal Trade Commission to investigate, says ABC News. That article mentions a lawsuit over the issue that was filed in San Jose, California. A Kansas man also filed suit last week, alleging the same wiretap violations as Beatty's Arizona complaint.
Beatty alleges that Facebook is making a fortune on the stolen data:
Upon obtaining personal information and/or wire or electronic communications of the Plaintiff, Facebook conspired to use said information for target marketing which pertained to the Plaintiff and the individual Class members, over the Internet.
Her complaint demands that Facebook "disgorge" the money it has supposedly earned from selling users' info, plus damages and -- Woods has his fingers crossed -- attorney fees.
UPDATE: It turns out that Sharon Beatty is Woods' secretary.