US judge lets Facebook privacy class action proceed, calls company’s views ‘so wrong’

The Facebook application is seen on a phone screen August 3, 2017. (REUTERS/Thomas White/File Photo)
Updated 10 September 2019

US judge lets Facebook privacy class action proceed, calls company’s views ‘so wrong’

SAN FRANCISCO: A US federal judge on Monday ordered Facebook Inc. to face most of a nationwide lawsuit seeking damages for letting third parties such as Cambridge Analytica access users’ private data, calling the social media company’s views on privacy “so wrong.”
While dismissing some claims, US District Judge Vince Chhabria in San Francisco said users could try to hold Facebook liable under various federal and state laws for letting app developers and business partners harvest their personal data without their consent on a “widespread” basis.
He rejected Facebook’s arguments that users suffered no “tangible” harm and had no legitimate privacy interest in information they shared with friends on social media.
“Facebook’s motion to dismiss is littered with assumptions about the degree to which social media users can reasonably expect their personal information and communications to remain private,” Chhabria wrote. “Facebook’s view is so wrong.”
A Facebook spokeswoman said the company considered protecting people’s information and privacy “extremely important,” but believed its practices were consistent with its disclosures and “do not support any legal claims.”
Lesley Weaver and Derek Loeser, two of the plaintiffs’ lawyers, said in a joint statement that they were pleased with the decision, and “especially gratified that the court is respecting Facebook users’ right to privacy.”
The litigation followed a series of data privacy issues involving Menlo Park, California-based Facebook.
These included the 2015 breach that allowed Cambridge Analytica, a British political consulting firm, to access data for an estimated 87 million Facebook users. That breach was not revealed until March 2018.
In their 414-page complaint, users said Facebook misled them into thinking they could keep control over personal data, when in fact it let thousands of “preferred” outsiders such as Airbnb, Lyft and Netflix gain access.
Chhabria faulted Facebook for treating privacy as an “all-or-nothing” proposition, where users would forfeit their privacy by sharing data even in a “limited” fashion.
He said Facebook had taken different positions elsewhere, including in a California case where it likened information kept on social media accounts to information stored on smartphones, where privacy concerns might be greater.
That position is “closer to the truth than the company’s assertions in this case,” Chhabria wrote. “Sharing information with your social media friends does not categorically eliminate your privacy interest in that information.”
The litigation covers Facebook users in the United States and United Kingdom whose information was shared with third parties without their consent since 2007.
The case is In re Facebook Inc. Consumer Privacy User Profile Litigation, US District Court, Northern District of California, No. 18-md-02843. 


Dubai-based boutique agency Means Design launches PR arm

Updated 24 September 2020

Dubai-based boutique agency Means Design launches PR arm

  • Move comes as the agency signs hospitality clients the Meydan Hotel and Bab Al-Shams Desert Resort & Spa on a PR retainer
  • Means Design Managing Director Lama Accary Bibi: Creativity should be the essence of any marketing and communications company

DUBAI: Means Design, an independent Dubai-based boutique full-service marketing and communications agency, has officially launched its PR arm. The move comes as the agency signs hospitality clients, the Meydan Hotel and Bab Al-Shams Desert Resort & Spa on a PR retainer, in addition to their existing creative and social media agreement.
Launched in 2012, Means Design was founded as an offshoot of its sister company Means Marketing, a traditional marketing agency founded in 1984, with a strategic focus on bringing creatively led solutions to clientele. 
Servicing clients across hospitality, lifestyle, beauty, fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) and dining sectors, Means Design’s roster includes Raffles Dubai, Rotana Hotels and Resorts, the soon-to-be-launched Sofitel Dubai The Obelisk, luxury beauty and skincare brand Mollagara, red-carpet designer Rami Al-Ali, food-and-beverage titans Americana Group (TGI Fridays across the region, Red Lobster and Olive Garden), Aprons & Hammers and Café Society.
“This move is a natural one as we’ve always streamlined our communication across all verticals,” said Means Design Managing Director Lama Accary Bibi.
“What sets us apart is that we were founded as a creative agency. Creativity should be the essence of any marketing and communications company. Hence, we believe in telling impactful stories founded on creativity and strategic thinking. Innovation has always been key and today, companies need to step up their game in order to weather the current situation,” she added. 
“Our PR team has what it takes to understand what makes the media and the market pulse, and with the signing of the Meydan Hotel and Bab Al-Shams across all services, we’re thrilled to see what this launch brings for the team at Means Design.”