'ScamVille' Lawsuit Against Facebook Dropped
California resident Rebecca Swift has withdrawn her lawsuit against Facebook for allegedly profiting from so-called "scam ads" that appeared in gaming applications created by Zynga, an outside developer. Swift is continuing to pursue her potential class-action lawsuit against Zynga, which offers games like "FarmVille,""Mafia Wars" and "Yoville" as free apps on Facebook and other sites.
Court documents filed Friday show that the case against Facebook was dismissed without prejudice, meaning that Swift theoretically can re-file it.
Swift's legal papers did not give a reason for the withdrawal against Facebook, but some legal experts say that Facebook and Zynga both have strong defenses under the federal Communications Decency Act. That law immunizes Web companies from liability for material they didn't create.
Swift's lawsuit, filed in November in federal court in the northern district of California, alleges that ads in Zynga games tricked users by purporting to offer them "free" trial subscriptions, but then preventing people from canceling.
Swift alleges that she lost around $200 as a result of misleading ads. While playing Zynga's YoVille in June, she allegedly signed up for a "risk-free" trial of monthly shipments of a green tea supplement in order to earn YoCash -- virtual currency used in the game. The ads said that consumers could cancel within 15 days. Swift alleges that the company refused to honor her request to cancel, ultimately resulting in $165 in charges to her debit card. On another occasion, she entered her cell phone number in response to an ad for YoCash, which allegedly resulted in her being billed for about $30 without her consent.
Last week Zynga filed a motion to dismiss Swift's lawsuit, arguing that it's protected by the Communications Decency Act. "All of Swift's claims are based on content created or developed by third party advertisers, not Zynga," the company argues. To support its position, the company points to a recent decision dismissing a lawsuit against Google for allegedly displaying fraudulent ringtone ads.
John R. Parker, Jr., an attorney with the law firm Kershaw, Cutter & Ratinoff, which brought the case on Smith's behalf, said she will either amend her complaint against Zynga or oppose the company's motion to dismiss the lawsuit in the next 20 days.
Facebook declined to comment on the lawsuit's dismissal.