San Francisco, June 19 : In a San Francisco courtroom a few weeks ago, Facebook’s lawyers said the quiet part out loud: Users have no reasonable expectation of privacy.
The admission came from Orin Snyder, a lawyer representing Facebook in a litigation stemming from the Cambridge Analytica scandal. In a court transcript, first surfaced by Law360 and later uploaded in full by Sam Biddle at The Intercept, Snyder and U.S. District Judge Vince Chhabria debate what has become an existential platform question: Does posting, even to a small group of friends, on social media mean that a user is forfeiting all expectation of privacy? Yes, Facebook argues:
There is no privacy interest, because by sharing with a hundred friends on a social media platform, which is an affirmative social act to publish, to disclose, to share ostensibly private information with a hundred people, you have just, under centuries of common law, under the judgment of Congress, under the SCA, negated any reasonable expectation of privacy.
The judge pushed back, suggesting that if a user had painstakingly tweaked her privacy settings so that only a tight-knit group could see her posts, it would be a privacy violation if “Facebook actually disseminated the photographs and the likes and the posts to hundreds of companies.”
But Snyder didn’t budge, suggesting that sharing any information with even one human being negates an expectation of privacy.