It was bad enough when the mothers and fathers of the world all started joining Facebook — posting family portraits, friending our crushes and spelling out statuses in correct caps 'n' grammars like the Tweetarded calligraphers they'll forever be.
But a lawsuit? Come on, Mom.
Too late. It appears some particularly take-charge parents, represented by attorney Mark Tamblyn, already marched the class action down to L.A. Superior Court and demanded that Facebook.com stop posting their childrens' names and profile pics on its sidebars without parental permission [Courthouse News Service].
Basically, the plaintiffs don't think Facebook has the right to stick the faces and names of their under-18 offspring into those boxes, labeled “People You May Know” and “Sponsored,” that run down the right side of your home page. (The former garners more hits for FB, the latter for a paying advertiser.)
The lawsuit points out that once a Facebook user “likes” a page or product, there is no way to block his or her personal info from showing up in promotion boxes on other users' pages. In any other context, a minor would need a parent/guardian signature for that kind of exposure.
Plus, if anyone's going to make money off baby, it's Mommy — not Zuckerburg.
“Since late 2007, Facebook Inc. has been selling advertisements in Facebook as its primary means of generating income. With complete access to the information provided in users' profiles as well as the information generated through users' networking activities, Facebook Inc. is uniquely able to offer advertisers the ability to direct their ads to very specific demographics. …
[A]dvertisements are displayed on Facebook along with a 'Like' button or, in the case of events, the ability to RSVP through the ad itself. When a user 'Likes' a Facebook page through an ad or responds to an event, the user's action is recorded on the Facebook page or event page along with the user's name and likeness. For instance, if plaintiff [Juliet] Meth were to 'Like' an advertisement by XYZ Inc., when her Facebook friends viewed XYZ Inc.'s Facebook page, they would see '1 Friend Likes' that page, with Meth's name and photo appearing in the margin.”
Hopefully Time Magazine's person of the year has practiced his courtroom skills since those Harvard-twin and ex-BFF lawsuits, forever immortalized in “The Social Network.” Poor guy. What with a psycho stalker and a Cold War with Google to worry about, this mob of overprotective parents might just be the straw that breaks the prodigy's back.
From Courthouse News Service:
The class claims this violates Article 1 Section 1 of the California Constitution, on privacy; and section 3344 of the Civil Code, the right of publicity law.
They seek disgorgement of unjust profits, statutory damages, attorneys fees and an injunction.
And by disgorgement, we mean — hand over the goods, motherfucker. We didn't go through 17 hours of blood-curdling labor to not capitalize on the photogenic tween years.
As our sister news blog in San Francisco points out, there's also the option of, you know, not letting the kids sign up in the first place. Michelle Obama, for one, lays down the law on the homefront: