Facebook challenged over putting users in adverts
Published 21/12/2011 | 10:10
A group of Facebook users who are unhappy about their profiles being used in adverts on the site, have been granted permission to proceed with a legal case against the social network.
Currently if a Facebook user clicks the ‘like’ button on a brand’s page on the site, the social network can use the image and name of that person in an advert endorsing the same company.
A US court, which previously refused to progress a case of several disgruntled Facebook members who were angered by this process, has overturned its decision.
The San Francisco Federal Court has now allowed the group of Facebook users to proceed with their class action suit which accuses the social network or unlawfully exploiting their preferences on the site for commercial gain and without their permission.
In a recent BBC documentary about Facebook, which received scores of complaints, presenter Emily Maitlis asked Elliot Schrage, Facebook’s head of global communications and public policy, about this type of activity on the site.
He said that by people clicking the ‘like’ button on brands’ Facebook pages, was them effectively giving their consent for their name to be allied to that company and endorsing it in a sponsored story or advert.
Facebook also uses the US First Amendment as a defence to the practice.
A Facebook spokesman said: “We are reviewing the decision and continue to believe that the case is without merit.”
The case is the first one of its kind to have made any progress in the courts. Previous similar cases have been thrown out or have failed.
However, if the case succeeds, it could mean a major change as to one of the ways Facebook makes money out of marketing brands.