Teen Facebook Users Seek To Revive Lawsuit Over Social Ads

A group of teens is urging a federal appellate court to revive a lawsuit accusing Facebook of violating minors' rights by using their names and images in social ads.

Earlier this year, U.S. District Court Judge Richard Seeborg dismissed the teens' lawsuit, ruling that Facebook's “Statement of Rights and Responsibilities” protected the company from liability. Those terms provide that users who “like” products or services also consent to have their names and photos used in ads.

But the teens contend that they were too young to enter into enforceable agreements with Facebook. “California’s Family Code allows minors to void most contracts they enter into, and Facebook’s SRR is no exception,” they argue in papers filed last week with the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.

Seeborg rejected the teens' argument in March. He ruled that minors can only void certain types of financial agreements -- like real estate deals -- due to their age. Seeborg also indicated that being featured in an ad is a fair exchange for the ability to use the social networking service.

The minors are now asking the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals to reinstate the lawsuit. “The decision in this case will not only determine whether adults can commercially exploit the names and likenesses of minors by implied agreements to boilerplate terms, but whether they can do so by taking advantage of the simplicity with which a child can purportedly enter in-to a contract in the online era: by the mere click of a mouse button,” the teens argue.

Facebook is expected to file its response in November.

The teens who filed this appeal previously opted out of a class-action settlement stemming from sponsored stories. That agreement -- which also is facing a challenge in the 9th Circuit -- calls for Facebook to pay $20 million to resolve allegations that “sponsored stories” ads misappropriated users' identities.


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