No, You Don't Get To Sue Facebook Because Your Account Got Hacked

from the sorry,-try-again dept

A guy in Florida has apparently sued Facebook because his account got hacked and started sending out links to a virus. He’s claiming that the site failed to protect its users, and he’s upset that, even though he got his account back, he lost his photos and had to re-add his friends. He’s only asking for $70.50 ($0.30 for every friend he had to re-add), which got a bit of a joking response from Facebook:

“We’re very interested to hear how he came up with the figure of $70.50,” Facebook spokesman Barry Schnitt wrote in an e-mail to CNET News. “He’s not going to get it but we promise to refund all the money he paid to use Facebook. Seriously, we’re glad to know how important Facebook is to Mr. Karantsalis but his account was not disabled, is currently active, and he is using it, so I’m not sure what the problem is.”

Facebook can afford to laugh since the case appears to have no legal merit. Section 230 clearly protects Facebook from liability in this situation (as it should), and the case law on similar cases backs that up. In fact, Eric Goldman notes that: “If anything, Karantsalis might be on the hook to Facebook for filing such a meritless lawsuit.” The guy claims he filed the lawsuit to make a point, but the point he may end up making is that you shouldn’t file frivolous lawsuits just because you don’t like how things happened.

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Comments on “No, You Don't Get To Sue Facebook Because Your Account Got Hacked”

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32 Comments
R. Miles (profile) says:

My two cents

but the point he may end up making is that you shouldn’t [don’t] file frivolous lawsuits just because you don’t like how things happened.
This should be tattooed on every lawyer, posted on every courtroom front door, hung in every courtroom, and replace the “In God We Trust” text on currency.

It seems Mr. Karantsalis is taking a cue from the RIAA/MPAA School of Filing Frivolous Lawsuits (101).

Chronno S. Trigger (profile) says:

Re: My two cents

“This should be tattooed on every lawyer, posted on every courtroom front door, hung in every courtroom, and replace the ‘In God We Trust’ text on currency.”

I’m seconding this. Except maybe the “In God We Trust” part, that’s just traditional.

Someone needs to make sure they tell us why it’s 30¢ to add a friend, if it’s ever found out.

PS: cool, profiles.

because says:

Re: that old saying

Why?!? Its because of that old saying “just because he does it doesn’t mean that it’s ok for you/everyone to do it” and my favorite “if he jumped off a cliff would you do the same?”

Just because a corporation does it doesn’t mean it’s right and *silly* lawsuits like this cost tax payers.

Anonymous Coward says:

The lawsuit is questionable, but the point is not. When you signup to facebook, you agree to terms and conditions. In offering the public the product, Facebook potentially becomes subject to all sorts of consumer protection laws, etc.

Facebook’s dismissal of “we will refund all that he paid” is amusing, but fails to address the income generated by Facebook from this client. The client paid with his attention, which turned into cash to Facebook. It isn’t entirely honest to suggest that Facebook does not earn cash income from having these clients.

Now, if he had brought a class action suit… 😉

Chronno S. Trigger (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Don’t start down that slope, this is how the RIAA tried to sue Google over YouTube videos. Just because they get money somehow from people watching doesn’t mean that they’re responsible for user actions.

When one gets online there should be an understanding that crap happens and systems get hacked. Sometimes the only person responsible is the hacker. It would be different if Facebook themselves let the password get out or if there was some kind of gross negligence, but we have no indication of that.

Rob R. (profile) says:

Suck it up, princess!

Facebook can easily show that it goes to great lengths to provide good account security to it’s users. Try getting a Facebook account using the password “password” and it will summarily reject it and tell you to choose a better one. Most likely this user was a victim of either social engineering, or managed to get a sucky password even after the Facebook screening.

Take some responsibility and help your own security. Instead of using “password” go with “PassW0rd=” or something. Still easy enough to remember, but much much harder to hack in any way.

Anonymous Coward says:

@Chrono S. Trigger — “I’m seconding this. Except maybe the “In God We Trust” part, that’s just traditional.”

Umm… totally unrelated but look up the history of ‘In God We Trust’ on money, as well as in the pledge. (Hint: it is not as traditional as you might think) Then read the First Amendment and try to tell me with a straight face that God really ought to be in the pledge and on our money.

R. Miles (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Then read the First Amendment and try to tell me with a straight face that God really ought to be in the pledge and on our money.
I debated on whether to include the currency stamp, but found it justified given most frivolous lawsuits are more based on the currency than a religious belief.

I certainly hope this doesn’t open up a can of worms regarding religion. My intent, to be clear, wasn’t to detract ones belief in the text, but to make more of a point on why lawsuits are supposed to be filed.

managed to get a sucky password even after the Facebook screening.
Facebook probably did distribute a very secure password, but I’m betting the user changed it. Happens every day, and the worst part is most people use a common password across various websites.

It’s definitely reasonable to assume a web site owner isn’t liable for this idiotic choice.

You’d be surprised at how easy it is to crack someone’s password, especially on a social site. All the clues are there for the taking. People can’t shut the hell up when talking about themselves.

Personally, I wish every website mandated passwords which calls for at least two caps, two numbers, and a special character.

But I can see why they don’t. The inbox would be filled with people who can’t remember their password (despite tools to offer it, also easily “hacked”).

Chronno S. Trigger (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Are you referencing the strong Christian sentiment emerging during the Civil War or some Illuminati bull? After it’s been the official country motto since 1956, I’d call it traditional.

And to be perfectly technical since it’s cased “IN GOD WE TRUST” on our money it doesn’t necessarily reference the Christian “God” but a more general “god” or higher being that most people believe in (especially back then).

Note: Not Christian in any way shape or form, this is purely a sentimental thing.

Anonymous Coward says:

@zellamayzao– Yeah, that’s pretty much it… regardless of religious conviction, I think it ought to be plain that God does not belong anywhere in our government — even if it were truly “traditional” I would compare it to the “tradition” of slavery, just because something has been true for a long time does not make it the right way.

Anonymous Coward says:

I never stated that ‘In God We Trust’ refers to the Christian God (although the implication is most certainly that it does), but referring to a generic god is STILL generically religious, there is no way around this. It is not ‘sentimental’, it is religious. Oh, and when I said it was not traditional, I was more referring to the 150 years of American history where the ‘Under God’ and ‘In God We Trust’ were specifically and intentionally absent, as out founding fathers understood the importance of keeping church and state separate, something people seem to have forgotten in recent years. You are wrong, and have nothing to stand on. Get over it.

Anonymous Coward says:

How did we go from Facebook to God, although I do believe the Pope has a facebook account.

Who is God? Is he Jewish, Muslim, Christian or whatever? Well, yes, he is. God is the creator, and since everything was created, he exists.

Back to the story, the guy filed a lawsuit asking for $70, so greed obviously isn’t the motive here. The guy teaches a course in computer security to college students.

“Basically, I filed to get their attention,” he said before agreeing to drop the suit. “Facebook has failed to respond to my e-mails and my phone calls.”

“I’m a librarian and privacy advocate and take extra precautions with regard to safety,” he had written in an e-mail to CNET News. “I’ve used PGP since 1995, an anonymous proxy, etc. If something like this can happen to me, then it’s a big deal. FB is under reporting the amount of people affected.”

The CNET article seems kind of snippy to me. The writer talks about how this guy files many lawsuits. One of her examples is “he sued the U.S. Defense Department and Air Force under the Freedom of Information Act for information on the 1986 U.S. raid on Libya.”

So the writer deems a FOIA suit as bad? Wonder what she thinks of the ACLU?

Anonymous12 says:

@Anonymous Coward: If you’re going to have a debate at least be informed OK?

“a generic god is STILL generically religious, there is no way around this”.

Which would make it perfectly legal, as the 1st Amendment says that the government shall not establish nor endorse any particular religion. Since well over 90 % of world religions consider some sort of higher power, it seems to be perfectly legitimate, as no SPECIFIC religion is being sited. Oh I don’t know if you’re the same person comparing a system of belief which teaches love for mankind, however imperfect the practicioners, with a regime of bloodthirsty, occultist, homicidal maniacs who murdered almost 10 million people in 4 years, but the comparison might be lacking slightly, in facts. FYI.

Anonymous12 says:

God does not belong anywhere in our government — even if it were truly “traditional” I would compare it to the “tradition” of slavery, just because something has been true for a long time does not make it the right way.

Sorry you compared belief in God to the practice of keeping slaves, not Nazis. My mistake. That’s much less offensive right ? Or not….

On the TOPIC, the lawsuit is frivilous.

Anonymous Coward says:

@Anonymous12 — “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

I don’t see anything in there that grants an exception to generic religion — that is because there is nothing that says such a thing — religion is religion. I am not saying that the government should actively say that there is no god, that would be equally innappropriate. The government just has no good reason to weigh in on such issues in any regard, it is dangerous and a violation of our rights.

Oh, and for the record, I never stated that religion and slavery were similar, nor did I ever even suggest that religion is bad. I simply provided an example of where ‘traditional’ is very clearly not a good thing, and where the abolition of tradition was a very good thing for the world. Furthermore, I have not made any statements about religion in and of itself, only the government’s involvement in it.

Anonymous Coward says:

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights.

You got a problem with Nature’s God? It isn’t nice to mess with mother nature.

Anonymous12 says:

@Anonymous Coward:
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion” I’m clearly wasting bits of data by doing this,but the text is fairly clear. ESTABLISHMENT. I don’t think you’ve made a good case as to how putting reference to a higher power on money creates a LAW respecting a religion’s ESTABLISHMENT. In fact, there is no case, based on the wording of the first Amendment. No offense honestly, but the person making the argument is the one who has to provide a case. This won’t be solved in this forum, but your case is severely lacking.

, and for the record, I never stated that religion and slavery were similar…simply provided an example of where ‘traditional’ is very clearly not a good thing…

Right. Well in context, it sure looks the way I said it does. You could have picked any tradition, but slavery is really your first choice? As for your assertion that you didn’t intend the comparison as you did, I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt. You do yourself a disservice however, when feigning ignorance that the comparison might be seen.
In other words, if you didn’t think from the wording that the conculsion I drew would be drawn, you’ve got some pretty big blinders on. Generally, when making comparisons, a person would choose examples they felt were equal or related. At best, you made a really bad analogy. At worst, you’re full of it. Either way…not good.

Theo Karantsalis (user link) says:

Facebook

Hello friends,

My goal with the Facebook challenge was to draw attention to the importance of safe Internet practices. I also wanted to test an innovative approach to promote the Library and Internet Research classes I plan on teaching in the Fall. (I’m certain to have a full class now.)

I received quite a few e-mails from people who want to know about some of the court cases. I’ll let you decide whether each one was frivolous or not.

http://socialmediapress.blogspot.com/2009/05/librarian-vs-facebook-inc-discussion.html

Kind regards,

Theo

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