Classmates.com – one of the earliest social networking websites from United Online has been battling a lawsuit that argues that the website wrongly violated the privacy of its users by making information about users accessible via other third party websites like Facebook and on devices like the iPhone.
The lawsuit was filed by two Classmates.com members Thomas Ferguson and Patrick Fahy earlier this year where they had argued that Classmates’ decision could lead to identity theft, harassment and online stalking.
In their response, Classmates.com has asked for the lawsuit to be dismissed. In their argument, Classmates has said that the users’ profile information was available freely on the internet even before the recent change in terms. In the response filed with the court, Classmates explains,
“All Classmates.com users are made aware that their profile information is (and always has been) publicly accessible by anyone with Internet access. The only limitation to accessing that information prior to the feature changes at issue in this lawsuit was immaterial: from a technological standpoint, Internet users had to land on the Classmates.com Web site to view the information.”
Social networks have always been controversially involved in privacy violation cases. Facebook’s several policy changes in the recent past are testament to this. It will be interesting to see how the courts respond to the latest case with Classmates.