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Facebook's Irish unit sued for alleged unsolicited text messages in US

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Photo: AP

Photo: AP

Photo: AP

Facebook's Irish subsidiary has been named in a US legal action by a consumer seeking damages for so-called "junk" text messages allegedly sent by the social media giant.

Illinois resident Darya Ivankina claims in court documents that she received an unsolicited text message last February from Facebook. It told her there were eight people she knew who may be on Facebook and suggested she send them friend requests.

She has brought an action against Facebook in the United States and against its Irish operation under the US Telephone Consumer Protection Act, which prohibits unsolicited calls and texts to mobile phones.

A breach of that can result in a payment of damages to the recipient of up to $1,500 (€1,165) per message, according to Ms Ivankina's lawyers, the legal firm Sweetnam.

It's seeking an injunction requiring Facebook "to cease all wireless spam activities".

The lawyers said they and Ms Ivankina "are committed to vigorously prosecuting this action" on behalf of members of the class action.

Sweetnam describes itself as a law firm "formed to represent victims of fraud at the hands of corporations, financial institutions and insurance companies".

It claims that defendants Facebook "engaged in an especially pernicious form of marketing: the transmission of unauthorised advertisements in the form of 'text message' calls to the cellular telephones of consumers throughout Illinois and the United States".

Sweetnam is urging people to get in touch with the law firm if they've received commercial text messages that they did not request.

They insist that their client and others have "suffered harm" as a result.

If it's found that Facebook sent unsolicited text messages, it could face paying penalties running into millions of dollars.

But Facebook only sends text messages to subscribers when they've given express permission through its platform for the company to do so.

It could be that Ms Ivankina was using a telephone number that had been reassigned to her by her operator from a previous subscriber.

That could have resulted in Ms Ivankina being the unintentional recipient of the Facebook text messages.

Facebook declined to comment.

Irish Independent