You probably never thought you would have cause to sue HBO Max. But that was likely before you became aware of the way the streaming service allegedly disclosed personally identifiable information about their own subscribers to the social media behemoth, Facebook.
The lawsuit, which is a proposed class action, accuses HBO Max of sharing their customers’ video-watching history with Facebook so that they could better target their ads to Facebook users. If the allegations prove true, they would be in violation of the Video Privacy Protection Act (VPPA) by including in its coding a “tracking pixel” for Facebook.
What that Means for Facebook Users Who Subscribe to HBO Max
The HBO Max lawsuit, which runs 32 pages, details the way that the tracking pixel transmits this very valuable customer data for processing and analysis. The information that is gleaned is then used to laser target ads by assimilating it into datasets.
If you’re not the tech-y type, you might not immediately understand the ramifications of Facebook and HBO accessing your private data.
The tracking pixel gives Facebook the following information for every HBO Max subscriber:
- The URLs of each video watched
- Dates and times videos are chosen and watched
- Details such as the series name, season, and title of the episode
The above list is not inclusive of all the data shared between the companies about their customers. Suffice it to say that the information of subscribed viewers is indeed personally identifiable to anyone familiar with Facebook’s website.
Will the HBO Max Class Lawsuit Be Certified?
The case of McDaniel et al v. Home Box Office Inc. is likely to qualify for certification, although court records do not indicate that it has been certified yet.
Under Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (FRCP) Rule 23, class action litigation must have these attributes (along with other conditions):
- Individual lawsuits wouldn’t sufficiently protect the interests and rights of the litigants
- It would be far more challenging to hold defendants accountable using individual lawsuits
- The number of plaintiffs makes individual lawsuits impractical
- One or more of the plaintiffs’ experiences represent the class as a whole
Class action lawsuits only get certified as such by the courts if and when they meet the above (and other) specifications. These are the cases that get the big headlines and mentions in legal journals and consumer magazines alike.
You Can File Your Own Lawsuit Without Hiring an Attorney
If you get ripped off by an individual or a corporation -- whether it is over your data or money that should have been refunded to you -- you have legal recourse under the laws of your state to pursue civil justice.
One often overlooked solution for aggrieved parties is to file a petition for damages in small claims court. Each state has its own limits for damages. Some states cap dollar limits as low as $2,500, but at least two others have limits as high as $25,000.
Not Sure Whether You Have the Legal Chops to Handle Matters Yourself?
That reluctance to draft and file your own petition is widespread for those without a background in the law. To be sure, there are strict time constraints in which to take action, and again, these differ by state.
If you feel overwhelmed and not up to the task, that's all right. While hiring an attorney to file your case will probably be cost-prohibitive, you can access the e-scrivery, mailing, and online secretarial services that Dispute provides its clients.
Dispute's services are scalable, so you might only need to sign up for the service and pay just $9 for a demand letter. Since at least 80% of legal cases are resolved with the demand letter, your matter could easily be resolved within weeks or even days.
If your case is more complex, Dispute has you covered there, too. Our software can help you generate small claims paperwork to sue HBO Max in no time.