If Facebook and its properties such as Instagram are truly toying with the idea that they can easily weave users and their content into advertising, it may not be an easy road. Just weeks after an uproar over Instagram’s change of service terms, which people perceived to mean their photos could be used in ads, Facebook is facing backlash against sponsored stories. This time it’s litigious. A class action suit has been filed in federal court against the company’s use of profiles in sponsored stories. Facebook is trying to settle.
A pending class action and proposed settlement notice for the suit Angel Fraley v. Facebook, Inc. sent to users states, “Facebook unlawfully used the names, profile pictures, likenesses, and identities of Facebook users in the United States to advertise or sell products and services through Sponsored Stories without obtaining those users’ consent.”
The notice states that no judgment has been made, only that Facebook is offering a $20 million settlement that has preliminary court approval. According to the terms, that can translate to up to $10 for users who agree to the terms and file a claim. If claims exceed the amount of the offered settlement, Facebook will instead pay the money to charities defined by the lead plaintiffs in the case. The deadline for users to accept and file a claim or object to the settlement is May 2, 2013. There’s a web site with details of the suit including pending actions and deadlines at www.fraleyfacebooksettlement.com.