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Facebook sued in California court for violating privacy rights

[JURIST] Five Facebook [social networking website] users have filed suit [complaint; case materials] in the Superior Court of California for Orange County alleging that the social networking site violated their privacy. Among the claims put forth in the suit filed Monday are that Facebook disseminates users' private information and copyrighted photographs, and altered its Terms of Use without seeking approval of users. The plaintiffs, all Facebook users, claim these actions violate California Civil Code section 3344, the California Online Privacy Act, and the California constitutional right to privacy [texts]. Facebook called the complaint meritless [San Francisco Chronicle report] and indicated it will fight the suit.

This lawsuit is just the latest in a series of privacy-related challenges the social networking site has faced over the past year. In late July, Facebook closed a loophole that allowed individuals to see strangers' photos [CNET report] without those users' knowledge. In mid-July, the Privacy Commissioner of Canada [official website] stated that Facebook does not comply [report, PDF] with Canadian privacy laws. In February, Facebook, facing a federal complaint [PC World report], reversed an earlier change to its Terms of Use that would have given it ownership of all data posted on the site, even if a user were to delete his or her page.

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