Search Influence

A recent Facebook settlement over “Sponsored Stories,” a system for placing users’ photos in ads, would have paid several hundred thousand users $15 each. But now serious objections are being raised to the settlement; Public Citizen and other advocacy groups have filed an appeal asking for the settlement to be revoked, because it allows Facebook to use the images of minors without their parents’ consent.
That violates privacy laws in several states that ban the use of children’s photos in advertising unless their parents explicitly consent, said Scott Michelman, an attorney at Public Citizen who has filed an objection to the settlement.

The Facebook settlement would have required Facebook to re-draft its privacy policy, but according to Michelman and other privacy advocates that are supporting him, it would have made the situation worse.

The terms of Facebook’s privacy policy would simply be re-written to indicate that all users—adults and teens alike—consent to have their images used in ads when they create a Facebook account.
That kind of click-through permission might be problematic to apply to adults, but it may also be perfectly legal. However, Public Citizen lawyers are convinced that it’s illegal when applied to minors, and shouldn’t have been approved by the judge. Today they filed papers making that argument to the US Circuit Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit in San Francisco.

The click-through agreement doesn’t add up to the kind of explicit parental consent  required by some state laws before children’s pictures can be used in ads.

The states that have laws explicitly requiring parental consent are California, Florida, New York, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Virginia, and Wisconsin.

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