In August, Facebook was accused of illegally harvesting the biometric data of users from its photo-sharing app Instagram. Now the social media giant is being sued again, this time for spying on Instagram users through their smartphone cameras, reported Bloomberg.
The new lawsuit, filed Thursday (Sept. 17) in federal court in San Francisco by Instagram user Brittany Condi, claims Facebook gained access to Instagram users' smartphone cameras without their permission. She alleges Facebook spied on users to collect "lucrative and valuable data on its users that it would not otherwise have access to."
By "obtaining extremely private and intimate personal data on their users, including in the privacy of their own homes," Instagram and Facebook collected "valuable insights and market research," the complaint said.
The suit follows media reports from July when a "bug" in Instagram's code led users to believe the app was turning on their cameras without permission. Some users, according to The Independent's story in July, said they noticed a green indicator (seen below) at the top of their iPhone's Control Panel that showed the camera was activated. Users believed Instagram had been spying on them.
Instagram was quick to debunk the spying, indicating it was merely an error:
"We only access your camera when you tell us to — for example, when you swipe from Feed to Camera. We found and are fixing a bug in iOS 14 Beta that mistakenly indicates that some people are using the camera when they aren't," a spokesperson told The Verge in mid-July.
"We do not access your camera in those instances, and no content is recorded."
In another suit, in August, Facebook was accused of using facial-recognition technology to collect biometric data of users. Facebook has denied the accusations.
And what is Facebook really up to? Is Facebook really harvesting biometric data and spying on users?
We pointed out as early as December 2017 that Facebook could be using users' phones and microphones to spy on users.
And in 2018, the creep factor with Facebook increased, as they wanted to spy on people by hiding inaudible messages in TV ads.
Stay tuned. The pending lawsuits against Facebook could provide valuable insight into what social media companies are really doing with users' private data...