Five Facebook users are suing the social network for doing what made it an online superstar -- letting members share aspects of their lives on the Web.
A lawsuit filed Monday in a southern California court accuses Facebook of being a data-mining operation that does not deliver on promises to give users strict control of data uploaded to profile pages.
Facebook has dismissed the lawsuit as being without merit and promised a legal battle. The suit asks for unspecified cash damages.
One of the parties to the suit is a woman who joined Facebook in an early phase when membership was limited to the college crowd.
Then-Harvard University student Mark Zuckerberg founded Facebook in 2004 as a way for college friends to remain connected as their lives grew apart.
The suit accuses Facebook of betraying the woman by evolving into an open social network that now claims more than 250 million members worldwide.
Other plaintiffs named in the suit are identified as a photographer and an actress who contend Facebook is wrongly sharing pictures posted on their profile pages.
The remaining plaintiffs are young boys that the suit charges should not have been permitted by Facebook to join or post images or comments.
Facebook requires members to be ages 13 or older, but there is no viable tool to confirm ages of those creating accounts.
One plaintiff is an 11-year-old boy who joined Facebook and then posted that he had swine flu and uploaded pictures or video of "partially-clothed" children swimming, according to the lawsuit.
Facebook has steadfastly maintained that its members own information they post to profile pages and control who gets to see it.
Facebook has repeatedly revised its terms of service to appease privacy concerns of users while allowing for the technical side of running a social networking service.
Last month, Facebook announced it is testing a tiered level of privacy options including "all of your friends, your friends and people in your school or work networks, and friends of friends."
There is also an option to publicly share with everyone on the Web in what is being seen as an effort by Facebook to compete with the hot micro-blogging service Twitter.
(c) 2009 AFP
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