Class action suit in Canada only the latest of Facebook's woes

Facebook's privacy issues have come to a head as it has been sued over its handling of users' private information. The class action suit was filed on July 2 in the Queen's Bench Court in Winnepeg, Manitoba. Merchant Law Group LLP filed the action on behalf of Donald Woligroski, a Winnepeg Facebook user.

The suit accuses the social networking site of misappropriating Woligroski and others' personal information and intentionally using it for commercial purposes. It also says Facebook was careless and dishonest in alerting users to how the information would be used.

"Facebook misrepresented to its profit, its privacy policies and how Facebook would share, use and disseminate the personal information of the plaintiff and class action members," the lawsuit reads in part.

The social networking site says the suit is without merit and intends to fight it when the case goes to trial. It was not immediately clear when that would occur, although class action lawsuits are typically drawn out affairs that can take years to settle.

A lawsuit isn't the only thing Facebook has to worry about. German authorities are looking into its business practices, investigating why it saves information of people who do not use the site. It surrounds Facebook's user invite process, which gathers e-mail addresses of those it can not match to its database and sends them invites.

Canadian authorities had also looked into this process last year, and its privacy commissioner Jennifer Stoddart had expressed concern about Facebook's actions without those non-users' consent. "Facebook should provide non-users with an efficient way of finding their personal information and removing it from the site," she said at the time.

Evidence that Internet users may be tiring of Facebook's privacy problems may be found in its usage data. According to Inside Facebook, the site only added about 320,800 users in June. While this may seem like a lot, compare it to the 7.8 million the site had added the previous month.

Some age groups actually saw fewer users join month-to-month, especially within the 26-34 age group. "The age groups that logged a loss in June is also the one most likely to have paid attention to the privacy debates," researcher Chris Morrison wrote.

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