May 21, 2012
More Facebook Backlash: New Analysis Sees Users Express Strong "Dislike" of New Timeline Format — Meanwhile, Some Users Have Filed a Class-Action Suit Over Site's Sept, 2011 Disclosure That It Had Improperly Tracked Members' Web Use
Attensity, a provider of social analytics and engagement applications, has announced the results of its analysis of public reaction in social media to the new Facebook Timeline format for profile pages. Attensity processed 138,572 public comments posted on Facebook, Twitter and blogs over a six-week period. The results show an overwhelming 93 percent of comments contain negative sentiment toward Timeline. See the analytical research here. "We were rather shocked at the degree of frustration expressed by Facebook users toward the new Timeline format," said Rebecca MacDonald, vice president of marketing at Attensity, in a news release. "We knew from anecdotal evidence that many users — both individuals and businesses — were unhappy with it, but the results show a degree of negative sentiment we hadn't anticipated, given that Facebook is still in the process of rolling out Timeline to individual users." Meanwhile, some Facebook users on Friday filed a class-action complaint in federal court in San Jose, citing federal statutory and California State causes of action related to the revelation in September 2011 that Facebook was improperly tracking the Internet use of its members even after they logged out of their accounts. The action consolidates 21 related cases filed in more than a dozen states in 2011 and early 2012. The plaintiffs refer to the federal Wiretap Act, which provides statutory damages per user of $100 per day per violation, up to a maximum per user of $10,000. Even if Facebook's alleged actions constitute a single violation of the Wiretap Act per class member, that implies more than $15 billion in damages across the class. The complaint also asserts claims under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, the Stored Communications Act, various California Statutes and California common law. "This is not just a damages action, but a groundbreaking digital privacy rights case that could have wide and significant legal and business implications," said David Straite, partner at Stewarts Law, co-lead counsel for the plaitiffs, in a news release.
Attensity's Timeline data reveals a strong customer "churn" potential away from Facebook. The most frequently-appearing phrases in the messages are: "Delete FB Account"; "Hate New Timeline"; "Timeline Forced Changes"; "Switch to Other Social Network"; and "Will Delete FB." During the research timeframe, which included the March 30 deadline for businesses to convert their profile pages to Timeline, many users indicated their intention to try competing social network Google+.
The class action is being led by court-appointed co-lead counsel Stewarts Law US and Bartimus, Frickleton, Robertson & Gorny.