Facebook Accused of Misappropriating Likenesses of Teens for Profit

Posted by at 11:36 am on August 27, 2010

A class action lawsuit was just filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court, Central Division, alleging that Facebook is misappropriating the names and pictures of minors for profit.

David Cohen, a minor, by and through Robin Cohen as Guardian ad Litem; Shelby Orland, a minor, by and through Marcia J. Orland as Guardian ad Litem; for all others similarly situated v. Facebook, Inc., a Delaware corporation, and DOES 1 through 100, Inclusive (Case #BC444482), alleges that Facebook encourages the participation of teenagers on its social network. Without any attempt to obtain parental consent, Facebook sells the names and likenesses of those minors for use by advertisers as an endorsement of the advertisers’ products or services.

“When a teenager sees that their Facebook friends ‘Like’ an ad, it piques their curiosity, making them more likely to click the ad or visit the page,” says Los Angeles plaintiff attorney John Torjesen of John C. Torjesen & Associates. “We believe it is a clear case of exploitation of children for the sake of profits.”

“The consent of the minor for this commercial use of his or her name and likeness is not obtained by Facebook,” says plaintiff attorney and co-counsel Antony Stuart of Stuart Law Firm. “Under California law, the minor’s consent cannot be obtained without the consent of the parent or guardian. Facebook makes no effort to obtain parental consent.”

The class action lawsuit is filed on behalf of all California residents who are or were under the age of 18 and members of Facebook from Aug. 26, 2007 to Aug. 26, 2010 whose likenesses or names were used in a Facebook advertisement or landing page.

“Facebook’s actions violate the inalienable right to privacy guaranteed by the California Constitution,” says Torjesen. “It derives illegal profits by charging advertisers for the use of children’s names and photographs. As the father of a teenager, I view this to be exploitation of children.”

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