Facebook recently ran into a bit of legal trouble when five users sued the social media website for violating California privacy laws. The Facebook feature in question is the “sponsored stories” area, which advertises companies your friends have liked. The advertisement includes your friend’s profile picture.
What’s the problem? According to a recent Reuters article, the plaintiffs said Facebook was using likenesses without permission, compensation or a way to opt out of the feature. The details of the case were recently made public, and Facebook has agreed to pay a $10 million settlement. But the plaintiffs weren’t out for financial gain themselves. The money was paid as a cy-pres settlement, which means it goes directly to charity.
“California has long recognized a right to protect one’s name and likeness against appropriation by others for their advantage,” wrote U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh, who was quoted in the article.
“A very very small minority of people that use Facebook voted, which was pretty disappointing from our point of view,” said Facebook spokeswoman Jaime Schopflin.
Do you think Facebook handles user privacy well? Should more be done to protect users’ private information? Let us know in the comments section!