The suit, filed today in Los Angeles County Court, accuses Facebook of using the names and images of minors to endorse products--a violation of California law--via its "Like" button. Under the state's law, minors cannot endorse products or services without consent from a parent or legal guardian. When young users of the social network hit the "Like" button, their profiles are updated with this interest for all the publc to see.
Lawyers argue that this is tantamount to an endorsement, and that underage members must obtain permission from a legal guardian in order to use the "Like" button.
"We believe it is a clear case of exploitation of children for the sake of profits," attorney John Torjesen of John C. Torjesen & Associates, a party to the suit, told the AFP. The lawyers are seeking cash damages for two L.A. teenagers, who they say unwittingly broadcast endorsements of products and Facebook itself to friends on the social network and through search engines, which mine data from Facebook.
Predictably, Facebook called the case frivolous. "We believe this suit is completely without merit and we will fight it vigorously," responded company spokesman Andrew Noyes, who pointed out that Facebook profiles for users under 18 won't appear on public search engines.
In other words, Facebook didn't "Like" the lawyers' claims. Hopefully, Mark Zuckerberg got permission from his parents to say so.
August 27, 2010