A class action suit filed in New York says Facebook violates the rights and privacy of minors who use the site, by putting their likenesses on the social ads.
Social ads appear to a user who logs onto the site and sees the image of a person they know saying they had interacted with an advertiser. For example, one might see a friend's picture next to a company they had liked.
The suit, filed by plaintiff Scott Nastro on behalf of J.N., a minor, says that by using the likenesses of of minors in advertising without getting the consent of the parents, Facebook is violating the law.
Facebook says on the site that it does not give information to advertisers without the consent of the user. The site says in its terms of service, You give us permission to use your name and profile picture in connection with that content, subject to the limits you place. The lawsuit says agreeing to that does not amount to legal consent for minors. As important, Facebook doesn't say which products or services that one likes are going to be associated with a name and likeness.
The law in the state of New York says that to use a minor's likeness in an advertisement one must obtain prior consent of the parents or guardians.
A facebook spokesman said via email, We believe this suit is completely without merit and we will fight it vigorously.
A similar class-action suit was filed in Los Angeles Superior Court in August of 2010. The plaintiff in that case was David Cohen, filing on behalf of a minor. While the specific statutes are different, the two suits make the same complaint, that the consent of the guardians of minors is required for Facebook to use their likenesses in advertising. That lawsuit is still pending.
The case is J.N. v. Facebook, Inc. Case No. 1:11-cv-02128-FB -ALC, in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York.