MOSCOW, January 3 (RAPSI) - Social media giant Facebook has been sued based on allegations of having shared data intercepted from users’ private messages with advertising and marketing firms in order to turn a profit, Bloomberg reported Friday.

According to the report, the users filed suit in a US federal court in the state of California, asserting violations of the Electronic Communications Privacy Act as well as state privacy and unfair competition laws.

Facebook is reportedly accused of scanning the content of private messages when such include links to external websites, before following the links in order to profile the sender’s web activity.

The plaintiffs are seeking certification to file a class action on behalf of all Facebook users that have sent or received links to third party websites via the social media site’s private message system in the past two years, Bloomberg reported.

The International Business Times quoted the complaint as having stated, “This practice is not done to facilitate the transmission of users’ communications via Facebook, but because it enables Facebook to mine user data and profit from those data by sharing them with third parties – namely, advertisers, marketers, and other data aggregators.

The BBC reported that the lawsuit seeks on behalf of each user either $100 for each day that the alleged violations occurred or $10,000 – whichever is greater.

Facebook has vowed to defend itself vigorously, adding that the allegations were meritless, according to the BBC.