loss in a lawsuit regarding the usage of users’ names and photos in Sponsored Stories
ads could cost the company as much as $123.5 million. The company must pay $10.3 million to class action lawyers and $37,500 to the three class action representatives. However, the real cost of this lawsuit is that Facebook had to give approximately 153 million American users the right to opt out of having some of their actions featured in Sponsored Stories.
One of the more notable stories regarding Sponsored Stories arose after Nick Bergus
inadvertently became a salesman of sorts for a 55-gallon drum of lubricant. He initially saw a tweet that showed the item for sale on Amazon and thought it was funny, as you would. Naturally, he posted it on Facebook with the caption, “For Valentine’s Day. And every day. For the rest of your life.” This wasn’t the end of it though as his post along with his name began popping up in friends’ feeds more and more, but in a different context. It began to look as though Bergus was recommending people this product. Amazon were paying Facebook for this advertisement, but it crossed a line. You can read his story on his blog
and take it as a word of warning.
The plaintiffs who filed the suit against Facebook included a woman who appeared in a UNICEF Sponsored Story after liking the organization, a minor who appeared in a Craftsman ad, and a then-minor who liked Coca Cola before appearing in a Sponsored Story. Facebook plans to create an “easily accessible mechanism”, which enables users to check their interactions and content that is displayed in Sponsored Stories. Users will then be able to select which interactions or contents can appear in additional Sponsored Stories.
If the settlement agreement is approved by Judge Lucy Koh there will be some changes in the near future. At least we won’t be used to advertise products unless we actually want to then.