Most Ridiculous Lawsuits USA: Facebook can be sued over use of ads liked by friends, rules court

Facebook has landed in some legal hot water over its use of ads that snatch the names of members of the social network to promote a product or business. In a ruling issued Friday, U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh in San Jose, Calif., denied Facebook’s request to dismiss a lawsuit over the practice of so-called sponsored stories. Such “stories,” which started popping up this past January, create an ad based on the “likes” of a member’s Facebook friends. The ads typically display the friend’s name, photo, and a caption asserting that the person likes a certain advertiser. The ads are generated when a Facebook member clicks on the “like” button for a particular page, product, or company.

The plaintiffs who filed the suit claim that sponsored stories violate California’s Right of Publicity Statute, which prevents the use of a person’s name or photo in a paid advertisement without that person’s consent. The plaintiffs also allege they were unaware that the act of clicking on a “like” button would be considered an endorsement or an “expression of consumer opinion.”

In its attempt to dismiss the suit, Facebook had argued that using the names and photos of members in connection with their “likes” is newsworthy rather than advertising since the plaintiffs are considered public figures on t...

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