I recently received what, at first, looked like a spoof email from a firstname.lastname@example.org. After skimming the email I realized it was indeed the result of a class action lawsuit against Facebook over the issue of Sponsored Stories. The notices for the settlement, filed in October 2012, are just now hitting our inboxes. Since I may have been featured in a “Sponsored Story” on Facebook prior to December 3, 2012 I may be eligible to receive a portion of a proposed $20 million settlement, to the tune of $10.
The pending action states this:
The Action claims that Facebook unlawfully used the names, profile pictures, photographs, likenesses, and identities of Facebook users in the United States to advertise or sell products and services through Sponsored Stories without obtaining those users’ consent.
What are Facebook Sponsored Stories?
Sponsored Stories are those links that started to appear in 2011 on the right of your newsfeed, and now we’re seeing them inside the feed itself, that businesses have paid an advertisement fee for placement. Typically, the sponsored story includes the name and profile of someone in your friend list with a statement like “Sue likes Carmine Media” directly under the ad. The names and photos appear as an apparent endorsement of the story. Trouble was, users could not opt out and privacy groups considered the use a violation.
So the lawsuit is arguing that the names underneath, “Sue likes Carmine Media” were used without permission. Each person that fills out a valid claim may be eligible to receive up to $10.
In addition to the monetary payout, Facebook will also revise its terms of service to better explain to users how names will be used in Sponsored Stories, provide a mechanism for users to view their interactions with Sponsored Stories and provide settings that allow users to to prevent their names from being used in association. Facebook will also make a host of other changes related to minors using the site and the display of their names.
Personally, I believe that uploading, liking, posting and otherwise adding content to a social media platform results in our freely sharing that content with the platform and with the users engaging on it with the exception of minors, who should be protected.
But what do you think? If you received a legal notice will you file your claim? Let me know here in the comments.