Facebook’s Social Ads seemed like a stroke of pure genius when it first came out. Sure, some users were royally pissed that Facebook found a virtually limitless source of free models for their ads, but in the end, the feature was still implemented and people did very little to fight it – that is, until people discovered a little loophole that could possibly cause big trouble for Facebook. A lawsuit was filed in the federal court in Brooklyn condemning Facebook for using the names and likenesses of minors without the consent of a parent of a guardian.
The Small Matter of Permission
Facebook does a lot of things without getting permission. Most of the time, it gets away with such atrocious behavior. But this time it’s different. With the possibility of a class-action lawsuit staring the social networking site straight in the face, it seems like Facebook needs to rethink its strategies or else face dire consequences. Frank Nastro, on behalf of his son Justin Nastro, filed a law suit invoking the ‘New York Civil Rights Law’, basically lampooning Facebook for using the pictures and names of minors without asking permission from parents or guardians first.
According to the said Civil Rights law, nobody can use a person’s picture for advertising purposes without first getting consent. By irrevocably linking the ‘like’ button to Social ads, Facebook could have possibly violated this law. Of course, we always have the option of opting out of Social ads. We have to dig a little bit into our privacy settings to do so, but the option’s always there. However, there is no way for users to prevent their names and pictures from appearing on the pages of those that they ‘liked’. Furthermore, these ‘likes’ are automatically Thus, these underage users were unduly ‘exposed’ on the social networking site without the permission of their parents or guardians.
Then again, knowing Facebook, they probably have to have something to counter this accusation. My guess is that there’s a clause in the Terms and Agreements which Facebook can fall back on. But in the end it’s going to be up to the court to decide.
Facebook has yet to answer to these accusations. One spokesperson was asked but he declined to comment because they haven’t received an official statement yet about the complaint. This could become a really big problem for Facebook, especially if Frank Nastro manages to get class-action status for the complaint. They’re seeking damages equal to whatever amount Facebook earns by using their pictures in Social Ads. If the Nastro’s are joined by several others in a class action law suit, Facebook could end up losing a lot of money.
Be sure to check out our post on How to Remove Yourself from Facebook’s Social Ads.