Farmville Maker Faces Federal Lawsuit

Mafia Wars, one of the online games offered on Zynga Zynga

Zynga, the social gaming company responsible for five of Facebook's Top 10 games, is being sued in Federal Court for allegedly transmitting users "sensitive personally identifiable information in violation of Zynga's agreement with Faceboook , industry standards, and state and federal law.

Mafia Wars, one of the online games offered on Zynga
Zynga

Zynga provides free social games to Facebook users including Famrville, Texas HoldEm, FrontierVille, Café World, Mafia Wars, and Treasure Isle. Zynga requires users to registers with them and provide information including their name, address and sex.

The class action suit, filed in California, alleges that Zynga profited substantially from sharing users real names and other sensitive information to third party advertisers and internet marketing companies without user consent.

Facebook policy restricts third-party application developers, like Zynga, from engaging in this kind of activity stating that developers cannot "directly or indirectly transfer any data you receive from us to (or use such data in connection with) any ad network, ad exchange, data broker, or other advertising related toolset, even if a user consents to such transfer or use."

In addition to violating Facebook policy, the suit alleges that Zynga violated numerous federal and state laws including The Electronic Communications Privacy Act, The Stored Communications Act, California's Unfair Competition Law, Computer Crime Law, Consumer Legal Remedies Act, and committed a breach of contract.

In a statement, Zynga it believes the "complaint is without merit and we intend to defend against it vigorously."

The lawsuit follows a Wall Street Journal investigation> into the way Facebook handles data. The WSJ found that Facebook applications had sent Facebook User IDs to advertisers and other unauthorized third parties. Zynga's applications were among those named in the article.

The suit seeks to prevent Zynga from engaging in such practices in the future and also to "disgorge Zynga of all revenue earned from its social gaming applications."

Zynga's games have over 59 million Facebook users and the suit was filed on behalf of all registered users of Facebook.com in the United States who, at any time after October 18, 2006, registered with Zynga.

  • Paula Reid

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