updated 04:37 pm EDT, Fri May 18, 2012
Plaintiffs contend Facebook improperly tracked users after log-outs
Facebook, having just yesterday completed its initial public offering to the tune of a $106 billion valuation, now faces a $15 billion lawsuit in federal court. The suit, Bloomberg reports, alleges that the social network invaded the privacy of the plaintiffs by tracking their Internet use even after they had logged off of the social network.
The complaint consists of 21 cases alleging improper tracking on Facebook's part, the latest of which was filed on behalf of US residents subscribing to Facebook between May 2010 and September 2011. Attorneys for the plaintiffs are looking at bringing non-US residents into the plaintiff pool as well.
The suit alleges that Facebook's tracking actions are in violation of the US Wiretap Act, which provides for damages of "the greater of $100 per violation per day, up to $10,000, per Facebook user," according to the complaint. At more than 845 million users, Facebook would be liable for more than $15 billion in total.
Facebook's history is dotted with privacy-related incidents. In March, the social-networking company and Google caught flak from Senator Al Franken, who called for greater governmental supervision of privacy policies at large media and technology firms. The site's privacy issues have also brought it into conflict with the Federal Trade Commission, which expressed concern over Facebook's privacy policies. In recent months, the social network has been revising its policies, hoping to allay user and regulatory concerns over the ways it utilizes and retains user data.