Maryland U.S. government says it is suing Facebook for allegedly using its online services to target its users
The Maryland U,S.
Department of Justice announced on Tuesday it is filing a lawsuit against Facebook alleging the social media giant engaged in conduct designed to violate privacy and free speech rights.
“The department believes that the use of Facebook’s service and the way in which Facebook’s content and services are delivered to individuals and entities violates the Constitution of the United States, Maryland’s privacy law, the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, and other federal laws,” the complaint reads.
“This action is intended to preserve the freedom of expression and the right to assemble in Maryland and to preserve a vibrant online environment where people can speak, debate, express opinions, and engage in political and social activity.”
The DOJ said the Maryland U.,S.
Attorney’s Office filed a complaint in U.K. courts on April 3 alleging the alleged conduct “could violate the privacy and the free speech guarantees of Maryland’s Electronic Communications Privacy Act.”
The complaint claims Facebook has been “inadvertently and willfully violating the constitutional rights of Maryland residents and users, and has acted in bad faith to promote a particular political viewpoint.”
The lawsuit also states that the Facebook service is an “information service” under the Privacy Act, “which allows a person to obtain information from a website or service by accessing a web page or accessing a link to a web site or service.”
“The DOJ believes Facebook’s use of its services and the ways in which they are provided to individuals to target their communications with its advertising or content would violate the Constitution and other laws of the state of Maryland,” the lawsuit reads.
The complaint does not specify the nature of the Maryland complaint.
In addition to the federal lawsuit, Facebook in March said it would stop using ads on its platform, which had been plagued by complaints from users and lawmakers.
It also announced it would make a $250 million contribution to the University of Maryland, Maryland.
Facebook, which also owns Instagram, says its platform has made its ads more relevant to consumers.
“We’ve never knowingly targeted users with ads and have never had a plan to do so,” Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s chief executive, said in a statement in March.
Facebook also said it had reached agreements with a number of other groups to block the ads.
In May, Facebook said it will pay $1 billion to settle a class action lawsuit from users who claimed they had been targeted by the social networking site.
Facebook says the settlement is the largest of its kind in history.
Facebook and other tech giants are also under investigation in the U.k. for alleged interference with privacy.
Facebook last year agreed to pay $100 million to settle allegations of false advertising and a separate investigation into the company’s ad-tracking program.