Lawsuits in California and Rhode Island are taking aim at Facebook and its largest application maker, Zynga, alleging that they violated federal law by sending identifying information about their users to advertisers and Internet tracking companies.
The complaints both cite a Wall Street Journal investigation that found the top app makers were sending Facebook user ID numbers to outside firms. These numbers could be used to look up people’s names — and in some cases other information — on the social-networking services, and they could potentially be tied to advertising preferences or other data.
California resident Nancy Walther Graf filed the suit against the app maker, Zynga Game Network Inc., alleging that the company transmitted the personally identifiable information to third parties “for substantial profit.” The suit was filed in U.S. District Court in the Northern District of California Monday afternoon. In it, Ms. Graf says Zynga’s use of the data without users’ permission violated federal laws that protect the privacy of electronic communications, as well as a California computer-crime law...