In a victory for Facebook, a federal appellate court has refused to revive a lawsuit by a group of teens who said their rights were violated when Facebook used their names and images in social ads.
Lawyers for the teens -- all under age 18 when the case was filed -- argued that they were too young to agree to Facebook's terms of service, including its provisions relating to its ads. Those terms provide that people who “like” products or services also consent to have their names and photos used in ads.
Facebook successfully countered that the teens are bound by the terms of service, especially because they continued to use the site after suing the company for allegedly misappropriating their identities.
“Plaintiffs here contend they should be allowed to continue to receive the benefits of using Facebook,” Facebook argued in its court papers. “That is akin to a minor entering into a contract to rent a bicycle, then ceasing his monthly payments, disaffirming the contract, and then demanding that he be allowed to keep the bicycle.”
A three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals agreed with the company. "By continuing to use facebook.com after bringing their action, Plaintiffs manifested an intention not to disaffirm the contract," the appellate judges wrote.
The minors who brought this appeal opted out of a class-action settlement stemming from sponsored stories. That agreement -- which also faces a challenge in the 9th Circuit -- calls for Facebook to pay $20 million to resolve allegations that “sponsored stories” ads misappropriated users' identities.
That settlement also allows Facebook to continue using members' identities in ads, provided the company tweaks its terms of service.
The 9th Circuit heard arguments in September about whether to uphold that settlement.