Meta And News Anchor Settle Battle Over Ad For Dating App

Meta Platforms has settled a lawsuit brought by Philadelphia news anchor Karen Hepp over the use of her photo in an ad that appeared on Facebook, according to court papers filed this week with U.S. District Court Judge John Younge in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

Settlement terms weren't disclosed in the court documents.

The agreement brings an end to Hepp's 2019 lawsuit alleging that an ad on Facebook for the FirstMet dating app misappropriated her identity by showing a photo of her, which was apparently taken by a security camera at a New York City convenience store.

Hepp claimed in her complaint that Facebook violated Pennsylvania's “right of publicity” law, which gives people the right to wield control over the use of their names or photos in ads.

Meta settled the matter after losing two key rulings in the dispute.

First, an appellate court ruled that Meta wasn't protected by Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, even though the ad was created by a third party.

While Section 230 immunizes companies from most claims stemming from posts by third parties, but has some exceptions, including one for content that infringes someone's intellectual property.

Meta argued that a “right of publicity” isn't the kind of intellectual property that's exempt from Section 230, but the appellate court disagreed.

Last year, Meta lost a second crucial battle when Younge rejected the company's argument to dismiss the case before trial.

Meta had argued that Hepp's allegations, if proven, would show only that FirstMet violated her right to control the use of her image.

Younge rejected that request as premature, ruling that Hepp hadn't yet had the opportunity to obtain evidence that could show whether Meta knew the ad violated Hepp's right of publicity.

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