Facebook accused of ‘tricking’ users into signing privacy agreement

Facebook accused of ‘tricking’ users into signing privacy agreement
The evil geniuses at Facebook are camouflaging consent provisions and manipulating users into hastily accepting their tracking terms by showing them fake notifications, a new lawsuit says.

The accusations were made in a complaint filed by the European Center for Digital Rights on behalf of an anonymous Facebook user. The lawsuit, filed against Facebook Ireland Ltd. (where the social network has its European HQ) alleges that the company misled and pressured people into accepting its new privacy policy and terms.

How much: Facebook user puts personal data up for sale to highest bidder

If proved to be true, the tactic might be in violation of the newly enacted GDPR rules. The European Union General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) came into effect last Friday in an effort to force companies to protect the privacy rights of consumers who reside in the EU.

The complaint alleges that Facebook violated the right to data protection in a number of ways.

  • By requiring the user to agree to the entire privacy policy and new terms in one document, which includes a clause that allows Facebook to provide targeted ads and thus empowers the company to process personal data as necessary to fulfill this contractual “obligation.”
  • By not making it clear to the Facebook user that they didn’t have to agree to the policy and could opt to delete their account. For example Facebook only gave a clearly visible “I AGREE” as the response to the new policy in its app, with other options hidden behind fine print.
  • Finally, the complaint alleges that Facebook used tactics to force the user to agreeing to the new terms by blocking the user’s account if they did not consent by May 25, and using “tricks” like giving the impression they had messages and notifications waiting.

The plaintiffs argue that Facebook "used additional ‘tricks’ to pressure the users for consent” including “two fake red dots that indicated that the user has new messages and notifications, which he/she cannot access without consenting – even if the user did not have such notifications or messages in reality."

READ MORE: ‘I’m not coming’: Zuckerberg refuses UK govt request to appear in person over data scandal

The revelation that the social network would enact such tactics to pressure or deceive the public in forgoing their privacy whilst in the midst of an international scandal involving the misuse of personal data of millions of its users is either shocking or completely unsurprising, depending on your level of skepticism.

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