Facebook Defeats Pro Se Consumer Privacy Suit–Hassan v. Facebook

This is a pro se privacy lawsuit by 4 longtime Facebook users (from 2007-09). It covers a lot of the same topics as the dozens of pending privacy class action lawsuits against Facebook. Not surprisingly, as a pro se suit, it has no chance of success.

Violations of FTC Act. The FTC Act doesn’t create a private cause of action. Then again, the FTC did just get $5B from Facebook directly.

Public Disclosure of Private Facts.

While Plaintiffs assert that “Facebook exposed [their] privacy, personal information, personal messages, and personal activities to known and unknown companies without consent,” they do not identify the content of the messages that were exposed or what makes the exposed information personal or private….

Plaintiffs assert broadly that Facebook allowed “known and unknown companies” to access their private messages. Without more, the Court cannot conclude that Facebook communicated the information at issue to so many persons that the information was substantially certain to become public knowledge.

Breach of Contract. The plaintiffs didn’t properly allege which contract provisions Facebook may have breached. The damages allegations are also insufficient:

The complaint alleges that Facebook’s exposure of data “brings us the Plaintiffs at a high risk of our lives and security. Knowing that more than 150 companies and their employees have all of our private information keeps us under harm and fear not just for our lives but our children.” To the extent that Plaintiffs’ damages claims are based on emotional distress, the claims are not cognizable under California law.

The judge charitably gives the plaintiffs another chance, but it won’t help resurrect this case. However, I don’t expect Facebook will have similarly easy times with the other pending suits against it.

Case citation: Hassan v. Facebook, Inc., 2019 WL 3302721 (N.D. Cal. July 23, 2019)