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Discovery HGTV Sends Video Viewing Info to Facebook Class Action

Discovery Communications, LLC owns hgtv.com, a website that makes available videos with “home and lifestyle content.” The complaint for this class action alleges that Discovery monetizes this website by collecting information about its viewers—including the videos they watch—and disclosing it to Facebook along with their personally identifiable information, without their consent, in violation of the Video Privacy Protection Act (VPPA).

The class for this action is all persons in the US who have a Facebook account, subscribed to HGTV’s newsletter, and viewed videos on HGTV’s website.

Congress passed the VPPA to help consumers keep control over their personal information when they use video service providers. The complaint quotes a Senate Report on the Act as saying, “The Act reflects the central principal of the Privacy Act of 1974: that information collected for one purpose may not be used for a different purpose without the individual’s consent.”

It is also meant to maintain individuals’ privacy over what they watch, forbidding a “video tape service provider [from] knowingly disclos[ing], to any person, personally identifiable information concerning any consumer of such provider.” Yet the complaint alleges that Discovery sends its viewers’ personal information to Facebook, for advertising purposes.

Facebook sells advertising space. It claims to be able to target its users well, because it watches their activity both on and off its website, the complaint asserts, to gain information about things like their interests, behaviors, and preferences. The complaint alleges, “Facebook compiles this information into a generalized dataset called ‘Core Audiences,’ which advertisers use to apply specific filters and parameters for their targeted advertisements.”

As an alternative, advertisers can create Custom Audiences. They do this either to target their existing audiences or to advertise to people who might be similar to their existing audiences. To create a Custom Audience, companies like Discovery must give information to Facebook, either by manually uploading it or by using a Facebook business tool called Tracking Pixel.

Advertisers like Discovery integrate the Tracking Pixel into their website. According to the complaint, it then tracks website users and the actions they take, and sends the records to Facebook. “Once this record is received,” the complaint alleges, “Facebook processes it, analyzes it, and assimilates it into datasets like the Core Audiences and Custom Audiences.”

The information Discovery tracks with the Tracking Pixel, the complaint alleges, includes what videos its users watch. This information is sent to Facebook, along with other information on the users, which allows Facebook to link it to Facebook IDs and profiles. This, the complaint claims, “allows HGTV to better track analytics and target its advertisements[.]”

HGTV has a newsletter to drive traffic to its website. The complaint alleges the newsletter qualifies as “goods or services from a video tape service provider.” In sending user information to Facebook, the complaint alleges, HGTV “knowingly discloses information sufficiently permitting an ordinary person to identify a specific individual’s video viewing behavior.”

The complaint alleges that the disclosures of information to Facebook violate the VPPA.

Article Type: Lawsuit
Topic: Privacy

Most Recent Case Event

Discovery HGTV Sends Video Viewing Info to Facebook Complaint

March 11, 2022

Discovery Communications, LLC owns hgtv.com, a website that makes available videos with “home and lifestyle content.” The complaint for this class action alleges that Discovery monetizes this website by collecting information about its viewers—including the videos they watch—and disclosing it to Facebook along with their personally identifiable information, without their consent, in violation of the Video Privacy Protection Act (VPPA).

Discovery HGTV Sends Video Viewing Info to Facebook Complaint

Case Event History

Discovery HGTV Sends Video Viewing Info to Facebook Complaint

March 11, 2022

Discovery Communications, LLC owns hgtv.com, a website that makes available videos with “home and lifestyle content.” The complaint for this class action alleges that Discovery monetizes this website by collecting information about its viewers—including the videos they watch—and disclosing it to Facebook along with their personally identifiable information, without their consent, in violation of the Video Privacy Protection Act (VPPA).

Discovery HGTV Sends Video Viewing Info to Facebook Complaint
Tags: Sharing Personal Information with Third Parties, Using Your Private Information Without Consent, Your Privacy