The maker of an app that allows people to anonymously post everything from family secrets to stories of infidelity was sued for exposing almost 900 million user records on the internet.
Three women — who said they started using the Whisper app when they were children — filed the class-action suit Tuesday in federal court in Los Angeles.
Researchers were able to access “nearly 900 million user records from the app’s release in 2012 to the present day,” according to the lawsuit. The exposed data didn’t include the users’ real names but contained other identifying information, such as “stated age, ethnicity, gender, hometown, nickname, any membership in groups, many of which are devoted to sexual confessions and discussion of sexual orientation and desires,” the women said.
The data also included location coordinates of the users’ last submitted posts, according to the suit.
The app’s maker, Whispertext Inc., didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
The data exposure was revealed in March by the independent researchers and first reported by The Washington Post.
Whisper promotes itself on its website as “the largest online platform where people share real thoughts and feelings,.” According to the lawsuit, it has 17 billion monthly page views and 250 million monthly users across 187 countries.
The company was aware that a substantial number of users were sexual predators, while more than 1.3 million users listed their age as 15, the women claimed.
The data exposure has forced users “to live with the anxiety that their personal information — which contains the most intimate details about a person’s life — may be disclosed to the entire world, thereby subjecting them to embarrassment and depriving them of any right to privacy whatsoever.”
Whispertext was accused in the lawsuit of violating the federal Stored Communications Act and breach of contract. The three women seek “appropriate relief, including punitive damages in an amount to be determined at trial” for all users of the app.
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