Class Action Lawsuit Says Facebook Violated The Law By Letting Kids Like Ads

from the because,-they-better-not-like-ads... dept

It appears that a class action lawsuit has been filed against Facebook for the horrible, horrible act of letting kids like ads. As TechCrunch explains:
On Facebook, you can "like" any status update or post in your stream, but you can also "like" ads. When you do so, it can appear as a status update to all your friends if that ad is linked to a Facebook page, thus turning the "like" button into a social endorsement...

The class action lawyers claim that in the case of teenagers, Facebook is "misappropriating the names and pictures of minors for profit." Facebook might say that it is in its terms of service, that's how the site works. But the lawsuit hinges on a loophole in California law which requires parental consent in order to obtain a minor's consent for using their name or likeness for an advertisement, And Facebook doesn't do that.
This seems like a clear "unintended consequences" situation. Politicians pass a law to "protect the children" from being exploited in advertisements, but it also has the potential to get in the way of really harmless activity, such as a kid clicking a "like" button on his Facebook profile.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

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    mike allen (profile), Aug 31st, 2010 @ 6:14am

    stupid law

    Its a stupid law which = stupid lawsuits another idea that cant be used all because of stupid polititions california know to stick their court.

     

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      Pete Braven (profile), Sep 1st, 2010 @ 7:24am

      Re: stupid law

      Probably more a case of some parent wanting the kids to stop asking for the cool stuff they see.

       

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        Anonymous, Sep 1st, 2010 @ 4:31pm

        Re: Re: stupid law

        But isn't preventing children from being engulfed and saturated with advertising a legitimate interest for a policy to pursue? Its one thing if a mature adult falls for some advertising meme, but its another if a child who doesn't know any better is subjected to it.
        It all comes down to what kind of society we want -- if you are OK with the future being a world where facebook is indistinguishable from reality, then this stuff is OK. If you are more level headed and realize that we need to draw the line somewhere to protect children from runaway consumerism, then this lawsuit makes sense. For the former class of people, I urge you to actually sit back and realize how much advertising has sucked you in and how many of your views are paid for by big business interests.

         

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          Pete Braven (profile), Sep 2nd, 2010 @ 6:51am

          Re: Re: Re: stupid law

          ".. we need to draw the line somewhere to protect children from runaway consumerism, then this lawsuit makes sense."

          So then we also need to sue a load of churches or religions who 'brainwash' our kids, politicians who visit schools to influence 'future voters', the list would get very silly.
          The answer is not legislation but better parenting, a TV is NOT a babysitter!!

           

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 31st, 2010 @ 6:29am

    This just highlights what the law is, a "blunt instrument" that should be the last resort for anything.

     

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      Christopher (profile), Aug 31st, 2010 @ 12:22pm

      Re:

      Agreed. Most of the laws on our books would be non-necessary if the government had LEGALLY BINDING AGREEMENTS with various organizations and people.

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 31st, 2010 @ 6:33am

    turn off face book in California

     

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    Chronno S. Trigger (profile), Aug 31st, 2010 @ 6:34am

    One word

    Farmville

     

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    digital_nomad, Aug 31st, 2010 @ 6:53am

    Is it harmless?

    What if the ad is for a political or anti-political party? Or perhaps something else equaly contriversial. Facebook is not likely going to delete this information, and the Internet tends to remember as well. This is a violation of privacy for a minor who does not yet understand the implications of endorsement in adult life.

    I agree with the intent of this law, regardless of how "harmless" this may seem now.

     

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      Chronno S. Trigger (profile), Aug 31st, 2010 @ 7:33am

      Re: Is it harmless?

      Where do we draw the line? You point out political issues, I pointed out Farmville. What qualifies as an endorsement? Is saying "I like Wendy's" an endorsement? How about "I like Green Day"? What if Green Day posted an update like "signed with BMG" and someone "liked" it? Wouldn't that be endorsing Green Day and BMG?

       

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      Stuart, Aug 31st, 2010 @ 7:52am

      Re: Is it harmless?

      So what you are saying is that minors with stupid and/or bad parents suffer?
      Shocking!

       

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      JC, Aug 31st, 2010 @ 9:05am

      Re: Is it harmless?

      Yawn. Show actual harm and then we can talk.

      Until then you're just speculating that someone MAY be harmed in the future based on their actions today, a situation which occurs everyday, even for minors.

      As to your example, if some employer doesn't want to hire me or I can't get elected to political office because i "liked" an advertisement for High Times magazine when I was 12 ... well who wants to work for those people anyway.

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Nov 2nd, 2010 @ 5:04am

      Re: Is it harmless?

      then parents should monitor what their children are doing on the internet.

       

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        Seth Waterhouse, Nov 2nd, 2010 @ 5:06am

        Re: anonymous coward

        just wanted to clarify: seth waterhouse is not an anonymous coward. rather, he lacks attention to detail and forgot to put his name.

         

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    Mark, Aug 31st, 2010 @ 6:59am

    Yay lawyers

    Yay lawyers. I wonder if facebook will fold and just pay them off?

     

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    out_of_the_blue, Aug 31st, 2010 @ 7:17am

    "Terms of service" don't overturn *any* laws.

    It's a pernicious lie that users are bound by legalisms that a website asserts. No, common law is still on top; you don't lose any rights by making use of a machine that someone makes publicly available, free of charge. -- And definitely minors can't be held to contract terms. -- So, TOS are totally *out* of this argument.

    And societal standards are correctly asserted that exploiting kids for profit -- no matter how harmless it appears -- is also *out*.

     

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      Chronno S. Trigger (profile), Aug 31st, 2010 @ 7:40am

      Re: "Terms of service" don't overturn *any* laws.

      Children under the age of consent should not be using Facebook without parental consent. If in the TOS parental consent includes this, then it's not only allowing this, but within the laws as well.

      A contract that is illegal is not a contract, but it's easy to create a contract that works with the law.

       

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      mike allen (profile), Aug 31st, 2010 @ 9:40am

      Re: "Terms of service" don't overturn *any* laws.

      where are facebook using kids for profit an ad is an ad and all people are stating is they like the ad. just as equallly they may hate the ad they are not endorceing a product just the ad far a product.

       

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    NAMELESS.ONE, Aug 31st, 2010 @ 8:29am

    @10 you might also

    sue the grand parents
    the people that make tools to feed them all like knives and forks and spoons
    "THERE IS NO SPOON"

    and i'm sure when you start suing parents on mass like hollywood lawsuits they will vote the madness to end if they got even one brain cell.

     

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    A. Coward, Aug 31st, 2010 @ 8:47am

    Yet again we want to criminalize technology...

    If you as a parent do not agree on letting facebook use your kids name in ads shown to their friends/contacts in facebook, DON'T LET YOUR KIDS USE FACEBOOK!

    Why should facebook, or any company do a parent's job, and if not it gets taken to court? Is not as if there were no filters available. And even then, forget the filters, if I tell my kids they cannot use facebook at all for whatever reasons I have, then they better keep off facebook! If your kids will disobey you, then you have a problem with discipline, and it is still not facebook's or any other company problem!

     

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    Michael, Aug 31st, 2010 @ 9:12am

    Like

    Michael likes this.

     

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    Bengie, Aug 31st, 2010 @ 9:59am

    ??

    Facebook isn't saying the kids like an ad, the kid is saying it.

    In other news, my 17 yo friend told me he likes Starcraft2 while we were at a mall. The mall must be sued for letting him/her say that.

     

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    Zacqary Adam Green (profile), Aug 31st, 2010 @ 10:03am

    I really don't know what to think about this.

    On the one hand, I'm all for anything that makes it more difficult for advertising to annoy us by existing.

    On the other hand, I'm against the unnecessary limitation of the personal freedoms of minors.

     

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    ofb2632 (profile), Aug 31st, 2010 @ 12:35pm

    Lawyers..who needs them

    This is one of many clear cut cases where a lawyer wants to become rich by finding some loophole and sue a company that found a place in society.

     

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    darryl, Aug 31st, 2010 @ 9:40pm

    What Loophole ?

    But the lawsuit hinges on a loophole in California law which requires parental consent in order to obtain a minor's consent for using their name or likeness for an advertisement, And Facebook doesn't do that.

    What LOOPHOLE ??? Do you guys even understand what a loophole in the law means ?

    Its **NOT** a loophole, its a law.. Geezzz.. I guess it does not as hostile if you just say they broke the law of the state and people took action..

    So can you explain what aspect of that law constitutes a loophole please?

    Parental consent is required for almost anything if the child is a minor. Its not a 'loophole' to require parental consent for children.

    Now, for example, a loophole would be that the state ALLOWS children advertising WITHOUT parental consent. That would be a loophole.

    ie, a method of getting around the stated laws..

    So again, how is this a loophole? How is it a method of getting around the laws.

    'Did you know the pile is the natural enemy of the hole?'

    So there is no loophole, and its in very bad taste and ethics to use minors for profit and gain, thay they do not benifit from. So its not just against the law, its morally corrupt..

     

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    okwhen (profile), Aug 31st, 2010 @ 11:40pm

    I wonder what are the educational and moral levels of people believing there is nothing wrong here. I bet they are the same people feeding their children a diet of fast foods and considers one or more of their children their best friend. These same people always puke the statement “ It's all about the children”. Protecting children from parasitic blood suckers is our responsibility and allowing corporations to learn their habits and use them as test subject fore advertisement is wrong. This is no difference than someone taking polls of childrens' likes and dislikes while playing in the park. Then using the data to refine their advertisements that better reach children. Advertisements directed at children is abuse and taking advantage of people not able to defend themselves.

     

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    trish wilson, Sep 8th, 2010 @ 3:26am

    |Stupid LAw

     

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    Seth Waterhouse, Nov 2nd, 2010 @ 5:00am

    lawsuits

    I hope Jesus comes back soon. I can't take much more of this.

     

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    Seth Waterhouse, Nov 2nd, 2010 @ 5:38am

    money

    Lets just all agree that the issue here isnt the issue. Money is the issue. Every big corporation walks the line of legality in its pursuit of profits. That means it is going to travel plus or minus the path of that which is legal and occasionally step over the line, like in the case of: Does facebook require parental consent to sign up for its services, and if not, does it bother to get parental consent to use minors to like or dislike ads, and does that even constitute breaking the law? As stupid as this all is, its just a classic case of poor people rising up against rich people, when the rich people get just a little too rich. I am as laissez-faire as they come, but the fact is people who feel oppressed will lash out at people who seem to have too much. Its just that before, as in way before, when people lashed out against the rich, it was to keep from starving to death, so it looked honorable. Now, when people lash out against the rich, its to buy a second _______ (pick your superfluous non-necessity) and we all roll our eyes and wonder What is wrong with America? Which is why no one writes a modern day Robin Hood screenplay. Who wants to see a movie where a greedy little bad guy sues the big corporate bad guy, then laughs all the way to the bank and seems to live happily ever after? Then the audience thinks to itself wow good messagewait whos paying for all these lawsuits? Oh right, we are.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 25th, 2013 @ 6:27am

    Facebook must have at least a hundred lawyers and not one of those boneheads caught this. California has some of the most strict minors rights laws in the US because of the initial abuses of the Movie Industry.

     

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