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.

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Comments on “Class Action Lawsuit Says Facebook Violated The Law By Letting Kids Like Ads”

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Anonymous Coward says:

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.

Pete Braven (profile) says:

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!!

digital_nomad says:

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.

Chronno S. Trigger (profile) says:

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?

JC says:

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.

out_of_the_blue says:

"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*.

Chronno S. Trigger (profile) says:

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.

A. Coward says:

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!

darryl says:

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..

okwhen (profile) says:

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.

Seth Waterhouse (profile) says:


Let?s just all agree that the issue here isn?t 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, it?s 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. It?s 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, it?s 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 message?wait who?s paying for all these lawsuits? Oh right, we are.?

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