A federal judge in California has denied Facebook’s request to dismiss a class action lawsuit filed by users upset about being featured in advertisements without proper consent.
At issue is a type of social ad called a "Sponsored Story," which is generated when a Facebook user clicks the "Like" button on a brand’s page and that ad is shown to the user’s friends. The plaintiffs claim that they never consented to be placed in the ads but rather clicked on the "Like" buttons to receive discounts on products, support social causes, or to become eligible for promotional prizes.
Facebook argued that the ads are covered by the "newsworthy" exception to California’s publicity statute, claiming that users are "public figures" to their friends and that the "expression of consumer opinion" is newsworthy. The judge rejected the claim because Facebook’s publication was for commercial advertising purposes.