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Facebook Settles $10m Lawsuit Over Privacy Issues

Facebook Settles $10m Lawsuit Over Privacy Issues

Facebook has settled a privacy lawsuit with five of its users to the tune of around $10million.

The social network was taken to court by a handful of users who complained that their profile information had been used by brands in "sponsored stories" on the site without their permission.

Users became angry with Facebook when it emerged that brands were using the names and pictures of those who had "liked" them in adverts across the site, in order to encourage their friends to also sign up.

The case had been brought against Facebook last year, and a spokesperson at the time commented: "We are reviewing the decision and continue to believe that the case is without merit."Despite this stance, Facebook decided to settle the proposed class action lawsuit sometime last month, and has now agreed an eight-figure compensation sum with the five users involved.

Elliot Schrage, head of global communications and public policy for Facebook, told the BBC last year that by "liking" a brand's page on the site, its users were effectively endorsing the product and giving their permission for their names to be used in promotional material.

Furthermore, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has been quoted as saying that getting a trust referral from a user is seen as "the Holy Grail of advertising".

However, US District Judge Lucy Koh, who was overseeing the suit, said that the plaintiffs involved had effectively proved that significant economic injury could have occurred through the usage of their personal information in Facebook sponsored stories.

This case could set a dangerous precedent for Facebook. Many users have previously tried to bring similar cases against Facebook, but have seen their cases fail or thrown out before reaching a significant stage. The progression of this case could have seen a drastic revolution in Facebook's marketing activities had they lost; the fact that they decided to settle proves that there was a risk of this happening. Now, this has alerted thousands of other disgruntled Facebook users to perhaps try and bring their own cases.

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