Facebook is seemingly again in trouble over the privacy issue. The company has yet again been accused of spying on its users. Already under fire for alleged misuse of user data after the Cambridge Analytica scandal came into light, Facebook has once again been accused of accessing user’s private information like user locations and private text messages to collect data and metadata that could favour some of Facebook product and features over other social applications available on smartphones.
The claims are part of a suit filed by a startup company named Six4Three at the superior court in San Mateo, California. The company alleges that Facebook devised several ways to unethically access user data using some techniques tailored for different types of phones available in the market. As per the lawsuit, Facebook managed to gather text messages and metadata on Android phones while on iPhones it could access most of the photos, including those that were clicked by the phone and stored on the phone’s inbuilt camera-roll.
“Facebook continued to explore and implement ways to track users’ location, to track and read their texts, to access and record their microphones on their phones, to track and monitor their usage of competitive apps on their phones, and to track and monitor their calls,” the Guardian, a UK-based newspaper, cites from one of the court documents.
A Facebook spokesperson later told The Guardian that all these claims made by Six4Three lacked merit and that the social media company would continue to defend itself against the attacks.
The lawsuits also contradict Facebook’s recent acceptance of the fact that it collects users to call and text message data but only with prior consent from users. The lawsuits claim that Facebook not only spied on user data but also collected data of non-subscribers who did not sign up for Facebook but just had the app installed on their phones.
” Facebook disclosed publicly that it was reading text messages in order to authenticate users more easily … [but] this partial disclosure failed to state accurately the type of data Facebook was accessing, the timeframe over which it had accessed it, and the reasons for accessing the data of these Android users,” notes a document filed with the court.
Six4Three is suing Facebook after the social media company rejected its app Pikinis, which allowed users to locate any bikini photos uploaded by a Facebook friend. The startup claims that Facebook’s decision to restrict third-party apps to access photos has made the business model of the app defunct.