Just weeks after Facebook was sued for allegedly intercepting private messages, the social network finds itself forced to defend another complaint that it conducts unlawful activities, this time for supposedly falsifying member endorsements — aka “likes” — for advertising purposes.
The latest complaint, which is seeking class action status, was filed Thursday by lawyers for a Colorado resident and Facebook user with the San Jose division of the Northern District Court of California.
The Plaintiff asserts that in November of 2013 Facebook misrepresented that he liked USA Today in a sponsored advertisement shown to at least one of his social network friends.
“Although plaintiff has nothing negative to say about USA Today newspapers, plaintiff is not an avid reader of USA Today, nor does plaintiff endorse the newspaper,” the complaint states, adding that the Plaintiff has never visited USA Today’s Web site, or clicked the like button on USA Today’s Web site or Facebook Page. “Defendant knowingly used plaintiff’s likeness and Facebook profile to advertise to the general public that plaintiff endorsed USA Today without plaintiff’s permission.”
The complaint accuses Facebook of breaking a number of California civil and business codes, and argues that class members should receive statutory and punitive damages — of at least $750 per person — for the unauthorized use of their likeness. The suit is on behalf of all US Facebook users whose profiles were manipulated to manufacture endorsements without their consent.
“The complaint is without merit and we will defend ourselves vigorously,” a Facebook spokesperson told CNET.
The latest class action complaint closely trails another alleging like-related wrongdoing by the social network. At the end of December, Facebook was accused of intercepting members’ private messages to mine the data for profit.
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Wow. Interesting set of allegations that, if proved, could damage the credibility of ads running on FB. I wonder how the social marketing folks (I do some social marketing, myself) are going to respond to this issue?
Of course, if the suit moves very far in the system, when people are invited to join the class, I’ll be very interested to see the response.
Only the tip of the iceburg… let’s see how many are filed by June. Will it sink the Titanic? Will it change their practices for displaying images of people without their knowledge…maybe. A bunch more class actions against them would help.