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Facebook faces lawsuits from users as data scandal deepens

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Facebook faces lawsuits from users as data scandal deepens

Three users of Facebook Inc.'s Messenger app have filed a lawsuit in the Northern District of California federal court against the social media company for allegedly collecting logs of their phone calls and text messages, Reuters reported.

Facebook earlier dismissed reports that it collected users' call and text data without consent. It said users do have an option to upload contacts and call and text history when signing up for Messenger or Facebook Lite on Android, but that does not mean it sells that data or records the content of calls and text messages.

In addition, Cook County, Ill., on March 23 filed a lawsuit against Facebook and Cambridge Analytica LLC parent SCL Group Ltd. for allegedly violating the Illinois Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act, in relation to the social media platform's data breach, the Chicago Tribune reported March 27.

Cook County State's Attorney Kimberly Foxx, who filed on behalf of residents, also stated in the filing with the Cook County Circuit Court that the company was unable to keep users' data private and has misrepresented how the data would be used.

The lawsuits follow a series of queries and investigations on how Facebook handles its data.

The U.S. Federal trade Commission confirmed March 26 that it has launched "an open nonpublic investigation" on Facebook's data privacy practices.

Zuckerberg summoned

Bipartisan leaders of the House Energy and Commerce Committee and the U.K. House of Commons' Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee have both requested Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to testify before them.

Zuckerberg said he is prepared to testify before the U.S. Congress "if it is the right thing to do," following a spate of investigations on a recent scandal involving misuse of users' personal data.

However, the Facebook founder will not testify before British lawmakers. Instead, the company will send either Facebook Chief Technology Officer Mike Schroepfer or Chief Product Officer Chris Cox to give evidence.

Meanwhile, during a hearing with the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee, Christopher Wylie — the whistleblower behind the Facebook privacy scandal — called an earlier statement by Alexander Nix, the suspended CEO of Cambridge Analytica, "exceptionally misleading" and "dishonest" following revelations that the firm held vast amounts of user data after obtaining it from psychology researcher Aleksandr Kogan.

During a February hearing with the committee, Nix had denied any unlawful use of Facebook user data. At the time, he defended the firm's technology as "no different from what the advertising industry at large is doing."

Wylie, however, told members of Parliament that "it is categorically untrue" that Cambridge Analytica never used Facebook data.

"Facebook data ... was the foundational data set of the company. That is how the algorithms were developed," he said.

Cambridge Analytica rebuffed Wylie's claims on Twitter, writing that he "was a part-time contractor who left in July 2014 and has no direct knowledge of our work or practices since that date."