Thought your Facebook messages were private? Think again. Facebook is facing a class action lawsuit for allegedly intercepting private messages without consent, in order to use the data for its own profit. The website has been accused of violating both state and federal privacy laws in the US.

Matthew Campbell and Michael Hurley have filed a suit against Facebook this week with the Northern District Court of California. They’ve accused the social networking website of violating the Electronic Communications Privacy Act by scanning private messages that had URLs in them for “purposes including but not limited to data mining and user profiling.”

Evolve or perish (Image credit: Reuters)

Sued (Image credit: Reuters)

Essentially, the men hold Facebook responsible for scanning messages in order to increase the number of likes on pages of websites being mentioned in them. The suit has also cited a report from Swiss security firm High-Tech Bridge, suggesting Facebook likes on web pages go up when users send the page as a private link. They claim that these messagesare being viewed by people other than the sender and receiver.

Facebook, of course, has defended the claim. “We believe the allegations are without merit and we will defend ourselves vigorously,” a spokesperson for the website has said. The study being cited in the suit was released in August last year and it tried to show that Facebook scanned through the URLs in private messages, without informing the users.

The suit is seeking class action status on behalf of all US users who have sent or received private messages that contained a URL in them. Besides the fact that the plaintiffs are seeking an injunction from the courts against Facebook to stop this practice, they’re also seeking damages to the tune of $100 per user for each day Facebook violated the Electronics Communications Privacy Act.

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