Lawsuit Over Facebook "Sponsored" Updates Allowed To Proceed

It’s been almost a year since Facebook began taking your “like” list and turning it into advertising via so-called “sponsored stories,” and on Friday, a U.S. District Court judge in California rejected the social networking site’s attempt to dismiss a lawsuit that claims Facebook unjustly enriched itself with these ads by violating a California law pertaining to commercial endorsements.

Under California’s Right of Publicity Statute, it’s a no-no for advertisers to use a person’s name, voice, signature, photograph or likeness without consent.

But Facebook says it doesn’t need consent because it claims these ads fall under the law’s “newsworthiness” exemption since Facebook users are public figures to those in their group of friends (supposedly the only ones who see such ads) and expressions of consumer opinion are generally newsworthy.

In ruling that the case can move forward, the judge wrote that the “plaintiffs have articulated a coherent theory of how they were economically injured by the misappropriation of their names, photographs and likeness.”

A rep for Facebook tells Bloomberg, “We are reviewing the decision and continue to believe that the case is without merit.”

Facebook Lawsuit Against Ads ‘Liked’ by Friends Can Proceed, Judge Rules [Bloomberg]