The plaintiffs in a case that accuses Facebook, Inc. of using children’s names and faces, without consent, for advertising purposes will appeal a federal judge’s dismissal of their proposed class action.
U.S. District Judge Richard Seeborg ruled on March 26 that anyone, including minors, who accepts the social networking site’s terms of service when they sign up for an account gives the company permission to use their names and profile photos.
“Facebook users have, in effect, simply granted Facebook the right to use their names in pictures in certain specified situations, in exchange for whatever benefits they may realize from using the Facebook site,” Seeborg wrote in C.M.D., et al., v. Facebook, Inc., filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. Read the order here.
The plaintiffs had argued that Facebook’s Statement of Rights and Responsibilities was unenforceable because minors do not have the power to enter into binding contracts. Seeborg disagreed. That left the plaintiffs with no legal basis for their claims, the judge said.
Facebook has said it used only information the minors had voluntarily shared with their Facebook “friends,” sometimes adding a related advertisement and sending the messages to those online friends.
Two years ago, Facebook agreed to pay up to $20 million in fines and charitable donations after being found guilty of using Facebook members’ photos without their consent in “sponsored stories” ads. The company also tightened its privacy policies for teens.
The plaintiff’s attorneys are Steven Katz and Aaron Zigler of Korein Tillery, LLC, St. Louis, and Lee Squitieri of Squitieri & Fearon, LLP, New York.
Lisa Hoffman is a contributing writer for The National Law Journal.