Facebook Sued For Sending Unwanted SMS Messages

A resident of New Mexico has sued Facebook for allegedly violating a text-spam law by sending him dozens of unsolicited SMS messages.

James Hamilton, who lives in Liano Quemado, says in a lawsuit against the company that he received 54 texts informing him that he had messages waiting for him on the social networking service -- even though he doesn't have a Facebook account. “Plaintiff has no interest in becoming a member of Facebook or having a Facebook page,” he asserts in his complaint.

Hamilton says that he replied to the text messages by asking Facebook to stop sending them, but that he wasn't successful. He also says he wasn't able to communicate directly with Facebook.

He alleges that Facebook violated the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, which prohibits companies from using automated dialers to send unsolicited text ads to people's cell phones. He also alleges that the messages run afoul of New Mexico's Unfair Practices Act, and are an invasion of privacy.

A Facebook spokesperson says the lawsuit is without merit and that the company will defend itself.

Hamilton doesn't speculate in the complaint about why he might have received messages from the social networking service. His lawsuit, initially filed in April, was sent to federal court last week.

In other cases, however, people have said they have received unwanted messages after obtaining a phone with a reassigned number. Twitter and Yahoo are among the companies currently facing lawsuits for allegedly sending SMS ads to people with reassigned numbers.

The Federal Communications Commission is expected to vote next week on whether to issue regulations that address companies' liability for sending SMS messages to reassigned numbers. Currently, companies potentially can violate the Telephone Consumer Protection Act by sending a single text message to the wrong recipient. FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler recently said that he will propose a “safe harbor” that would allow companies to make one call to the wrong number.

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