Facebook wins privacy class action certification battle

Blog Post
Facebook, Inc. recently obtained a significant victory in a privacy class action filed by users alleging that Facebook disclosed their “sensitive personally identifiable information” to third-party advertisers in violation of Facebook’s own privacy policies, and state and federal law. Specifically, the putative class plaintiffs contend that Facebook “intentionally and knowingly” transmitted users’ personal information, including their real names, to Facebook advertisers without the users’ knowledge or consent when they clicked on third-party advertisements.

On September 2, 2016, the United States District Court for the Northern District of California denied the plaintiffs’ motion for class certification, effectively halting this privacy class action in its tracks. The Court ruled that the plaintiffs failed to establish that their claims against Facebook could be resolved by “common proof” on a class-wide basis. Instead, because “individualized questions” predominate plaintiffs’ allegations against Facebook, they are incapable of being resolved for all class members in a single adjudication.

This ruling regarding lack of “common proof” is a major win for Facebook in this privacy class action lawsuit, which previously was dismissed in 2011 but later reversed by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. It also reflects a continuing trend nationwide, as companies like Facebook seek to prevent such privacy lawsuits from moving forward on a class-wide basis.

The case is captioned In re: Facebook Privacy Litigation, Case No. 5:10-cv-02389, United States District Court for the Northern District of California, San Jose Division, and a copy of the Court’s September 2, 2016 Order can be found here.
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