Facebook yet again finds itself involved in another lawsuit. The social-networking service is being sued by people claiming that showing ads that network friends can “like,” violates a California law regarding commercial endorsements. Goodness, being big sure does generate a lot of lawsuits.
Facebook’s bid to dismiss the lawsuit was rejected this week, and it was ruled that the plaintiffs may pursue claims that the company’s sponsored ads violate state law and are fraudulent. The court found that, “plaintiffs have articulated a coherent theory of how they were economically injured by the misappropriation of their names, photographs and likeness.” According to the plaintiffs, a sponsored story is a paid ad consisting of another friend’s name and profile picture and claiming the person likes the advertiser, and they further feel that it’s an unauthorized use of their names and likenesses and they feel they deserve compensation. Raise your hand you think this sounds ridiculous.
Facebook’s argument is that this case should be dismissed by the court before it is dismissed by a jury because Facebook is immune under the law’s “newsworthiness” exemption, which doesn’t require consent, and that the plaintiffs are public figures to their friends, and expressions of consumer opinion are generally newsworthy.
What are they complaining about? As Facebook’s Chief Executive Officer puts it, “nothing influences people more than a recommendation of a friend” and a “trusted referral is the Holy Grail of advertising.” The “liked” ads are doing nothing but benefiting the plaintiffs, but yet they are asking for more money for the unauthorized use of their names. Plaintiffs’ lawyers have an undeserved reputation for a willingness to sue their parents for a buck. This article lends credence to it.