Facebook Wins Battle Over Text Alerts

Handing Facebook a victory, a federal judge has thrown out a lawsuit accusing the company of violating an anti-spam law by repeatedly sending people unwanted text messages.

U.S. District Court Judge Jon Tigar in San Francisco said in a ruling issued late last week that the complaint, brought by Montana resident Noah Duguid, didn't contain enough facts to support the claim that the company used an automated dialing system to send text messages.

The dispute dates to March of 2015, when Duguid alleged in a class-action complaint that Facebook repeatedly sent him text messages even though he never used the social networking service. Duguid, who apparently had been assigned a recycled phone number by his carrier, alleged that Facebook repeatedly notified him via SMS that his account had been accessed.

He argued that the company violated the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, which prohibits companies from using automated dialers to send text messages to people without their consent.

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Facebook urged U.S. District Court Judge Jon Tigar in the Northern District of Califonria to throw out the case. Among other arguments, Facebook said the complaint didn't include enough information to support the conclusion that Facebook used a robo-dialer to send the messages.

Tigar sided with Facebook. "At best, [Duguid's] allegations are conclusory, given that he merely asserts that Facebook 'maintains a database of phone numbers on its computer' and 'transmits alert text messages to selected numbers from its database using its automated protocol,' without offering any factual support for this claim," Tigar wrote.

"At worst, this claim contradicts the variety of other allegations offered by Plaintiff, which suggest that Facebook does not dial numbers randomly but rather directly targets selected numbers based on the input of users and when certain logins were attempted."

The dismissal was issued "with prejudice," meaning that Duguid can't attempt to beef up his complaint and file it again.

But Facebook is still facing at least two other lawsuits accusing it of violating the Telephone Consumer Protection Act.

District of Columbia resident Christine Holt, who also says she doesn't have a Facebook account, is still suing the company for allegedly bombarding her with SMS messages after she obtained a cell phone from MetroPCS.

In addition, Facebook is defending itself in a lawsuit by Florida resident Colin Brickman, who alleges in a class-action complaint that the company is violating the anti-spam law by sending users messages about their friends' birthdays. U.S. District Court Judge Thelton Henderson in San Francisco recently rejected Facebook's bid to dismiss that matter on free speech grounds.

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