Two Walmart customers are suing the retail giant over allegations that it knowingly disclosed their personal information, including their Facebook accounts and purchase information, without their consent when they bought video content on walmart.com, according to California Superior Court documents shared by Bloomberg Law.
Alicia Cappello and Catherine Mosqueda filed a class action suit alleging violations of U.S. and California codes pertaining to privacy around obtaining video materials, according to the filing. Walmart supplied their data to Facebook using "an advertising tool called a Facebook pixel on its retail website," according to their complaint.
In an interview with Retail Dive, Walmart spokesperson Randy Hargrove said it was difficult to comment on the complaint because the company had just received it. "We take our customers’ privacy seriously," he said. "We are reviewing the allegations and will respond as appropriate with the court."
Facebook's Pixel program leverages cookies, bits of code stored in Internet browsers that Facebook says are "used to distinguish between website visitors," as well as for the purpose of advertising and, or analytics, according to a Facebook blog post. Consumers can decide which use case they prefer.
The plaintiffs in this case may have extra recourse to fight Walmart because of tight regulations in the U.S. and California that govern video purchases more stringently than other purchases.
During an IRCE conference session in June, Erin Jordan, senior account director at Walker Sands Communications, said that retailers need to think about the reality of how shoppers use various touchpoints while shopping, including taking into account consumer privacy worries. "Data privacy is going to be a really important future issue, and they need to think about how they are going to protect their customers," she said, according to a Retail Dive report on her presentation.