Facebook And Netflix Accused of Data-Sharing Breach

(RepublicanPress.org) – Private citizens, state attorneys general, and the federal government have launched hundreds of lawsuits against Facebook and its parent company, Meta, in federal court in the last few years. The nature of those actions ranges from antitrust matters to civil rights violations, personal injury/product liability to trademark violations, and a host of other alleged infractions.

Recent court filings in a years-old antitrust lawsuit accused Facebook and Netflix of committing a legally impermissible data-sharing breach.

Data-Sharing Accusations

In early December 2020, Maximillian Klein and Sarah Grabert filed a class action complaint against Facebook in the US District Court of the Northern District of California. The plaintiffs’ 84-page filing accused the Big Tech company of unjust enrichment and two counts each of the “monopolization” and the “attempted monopolization” of the “social network market,” violations of the Sherman Antitrust Act (15 U.S.C. § 2).

The plaintiffs have filed scores of documents with the trial court over the past 40 months. On March 23, US District Judge James Donato unsealed a series of discovery letters initially submitted to the court from late March through mid-June 2023. That document cache includes 46 pages of discovery-related questions related to various allegations lodged against Facebook officials by the plaintiffs’ attorneys.

Those court documents revealed the plaintiffs’ lawyers’ claim that Facebook allowed Netflix officials to access its users’ DMs (direct messages) for nearly a decade. The Big Tech companies agreed to share DMs and other data to help the streaming company better tailor its content offerings and boost Facebook’s advertising targeting and ranking models to increase earnings. In return, Netflix submitted reports detailing its users’ watch histories to Facebook officials.

Reportedly, Facebook developed an online tool for Netflix engineers to accomplish that feat. Dubbed the “Titan API,” the code allowed Netflix to monitor who Facebook users messages, both on and off the platform. Supposedly, Facebook only provided the API to the company’s “whitelisted” partners.

In return, Netflix reportedly agreed to submit bi-weekly reports to Facebook. Those documents supposedly contained data sheets detailing the platform’s daily count of user recommendation sends and information regarding where they originated (i.e., from Facebook or another Big Tech platform). Supposedly, Facebook used that information to assess how well user referrals worked on different platforms and under varying scenarios.

Facebook Denies the Allegations

A spokesperson for Facebook denied the substance of those claims in a statement submitted to the Daily Mail. The FB rep claimed the agreement allowed people to use the platform’s messaging system to send DMs to their friends, discussing what they were watching on Netflix directly through the streaming company’s app.

The Facebook spokesperson said those kinds of agreements are “commonplace” in the industry.” The rep concluded the statement by noting that company officials are “confident” that the facts will show that the plaintiff’s complaint was “meritless.”

Copyright 2024, RepublicanPress.org