'Sponsored Stories' Lawsuit Against Facebook Transferred To California

by , Mar 15, 2012, 6:08 PM
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Facebook has convinced a federal judge to transfer a lawsuit about the sponsored stories program to a court in the company's home state of California.

U.S. District Court Judge G. Patrick Murphy in the Southern District of Illinois ruled that Facebook's terms of service -- which are available via links at the bottom of the site's pages -- require users to litigate claims in the company's home state of California.

"Plaintiffs are bound by Facebook’s TOS whether plaintiffs read them or not," Murphy wrote in a decision issued last week.

The lawsuit -- brought last June on behalf of two teens who live in Illinois -- is one of two pending federal cases alleging that Facebook is misappropriating users' names and images with the sponsored stories program. That program displays people's names and photos in ads.

The teens whose case was just transferred to California argue that Facebook is violating a state law that bans companies from using minors' names or images in ads without their parents' permission.

A similar lawsuit challenging sponsored stories is already pending in front of U.S. District Court Judge Lucy Koh in the Northern District of California. Koh last year rejected Facebook's argument that the users had not been injured by the sponsored stories program and therefore, the case should be dismissed.

That lawsuit was initially brought by six users -- four adults and two minors -- who sought to represent a class of all Facebook users. This week, Koh allowed two of the adults who sued -- Angel Fraley and Paul Wang -- to withdraw from the case.

Wang had asked to drop the lawsuit because he had to travel for work and wouldn't be available for all of the pre-trial proceedings. Fraley sought to withdraw because she was concerned that her privacy could be compromised by Facebook's evidence-gathering methods -- which allegedly involved scrutinizing all of her prior activity on the service.

"I did not expect that every single post I had ever made on Facebook would potentially be rehashed," she said in a motion seeking to withdraw. "At the time I made these posts, I intended for them to be shared with only a limited number of recipients to whom I am connected through Facebook's social network."

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