Facebook is asking a federal judge to immediately dismiss a large portion of a potential class-action lawsuit accusing the company of misrepresenting that users “liked” content.
“This case should never have been brought,” Facebook says in papers filed recently with the U.S. District Court in Oakland, Calif. “The bulk of it should now be dismissed with prejudice.”
The lawsuit dates to January, when Colorado resident Anthony DiTirro alleged that Facebook told his friends that he “liked” the newspaper USA Today. Several weeks later, two other Facebook users -- California residents Katya Bresler and Michelle Shumate -- also alleged that Facebook incorrectly said they “liked” particular marketers. Facebook allegedly misrepresented that Bresler “liked” Duracell, and that Shumate “liked” Kohl's.
DiTirro, Bresler and Shumate say they never clicked the “like” button -- either on Facebook or outside publishers' and marketers' sites -- for USA Today, Duracell or Kohl's. They are suing on a number of grounds, including that the site allegedly misappropriated their images, engaged in false advertising and violated their privacy by portraying them in a “false light.”
Facebook denies the allegations, saying that they “like any plausible factual basis.” The company suggests in its court papers that the consumers either forgot that they “liked” the material, or accidentally hit the “like” button.
“Facebook's objective, computerized records ... establish that Plaintiffs did click the Like button for that (and many other types of) content,” Facebook says in its court papers.
The social networking service also argues that the allegations don't support a claim for invasion of privacy, because there's nothing offensive about saying that people like USA Today, Kohl's or Duracell. “The alleged statements here are, instead, of the type that has been repeatedly deemed too trivial to support a false-light claim,” Facebook argues.
Facebook isn't currently asking for dismissal of the users' claim that their identities were misappropriated. But the company indicates in court papers that it intends to do so after obtaining evidence from the users' computers.
The social network recently agreed to pay $20 million settle a class-action lawsuit about its sponsored stories program, but that case didn't involve allegations that the company misrepresented whether users had “liked” an advertiser. Instead, that matter stemmed from allegations that the company didn't obtain people's consent to using their names and photos in ads.