Suit: Facebook Invades Privacy, Sells Personal Data

SANTA ANA, Calif. — Members of the adult entertainment industry have locked themselves at the hip with Facebook to communicate and market their companies.

But new allegations that Facebook permits third parties access to mine information without users' knowledge or consent might just change that.

According to a class-action claim at Orange County Superior Court, Facebook invades the privacy of its customers and misappropriates people's images and personal information for marketing and commercial purposes.

The suit said Facebook knows its users don’t want their personal information circulated around the web, yet its terms of use allow Facebook to retain user-posted data long after it has been taken off of the site.

“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.

The suit was filed by photographer Elisha Melkonian, who says Facebook permitted her photos to be downloaded, copied and distributed without her permission, despite numerous attempts to stop it.

In addition, according to the suit, Facebook users are “unwitting participant of Facebook tracking technologies and have had their purchase and/or other activities published to other Facebook users without their consent.”

The suit also said that Facebook now has commenced direct advertisements that include sexually oriented material to users through “social ads,” which are paired up to persons designated as a user’s friend.

"The statement that Facebook does not sell your information is misleading and false,'" the suit said. "Facebook has misled users with policies that imply that users are in control of their personal data."

Melkonian wants Facebook restrained 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.