Facebook have settled a privacy case in California a year after users complained that their faces were being used as part of Facebook’s sponsored stories. These sponsored stories allow brands to use the photos and names of people who have ‘liked’ their brand in their adverts on Facebook.
When interviewed by the BBC’s Emily Maitlis last year, Elliot Schrage – Facebook’s head of global communications and public policy – said that by clicking the ’like’ button users are effectively giving their consent for their name to be allied to that company and endorsing it in a sponsored story or advert.
In any event, Facebook has agreed to settle the suit for $10m, however due to the nature of the settlement, the payment will go to charity instead of the five individuals who brought the case. This settlement is still subject to approval from a judge.
Speaking of the case, U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh said that the plaintiffs had demonstrated that Facebook’s use of their names, photographs and likenesses could lead to economic injury. She also wrote: “California has long recognized a right to protect one’s name and likeness against appropriation by others for their advantage.”
This just goes to show that what you believe to be private information can be considered public by advertisers and website hosts. If you are worried about how much personal data you may be inadvertently sharing online, then perhaps it’s time to think about using a private sharing network.