Learn more about our policy experts.

Media Contacts

Angela Bradbery, Director of Communications
w. (202) 588-7741
c. (202) 503-6768
abradbery@citizen.org, Twitter

Barbara Holzer, Broadcast Manager
w. (202) 588-7716
bholzer@citizen.org

Karilyn Gower, Press Officer
w. (202) 588-7779
kgower@citizen.org

Symone Sanders, Communications Officer, Global Trade Watch division
w. (202) 454-5108
ssanders@citizen.org

Other Important Links

Press Release Database
Citizen Vox blog
Texas Vox blog
Consumer Law and Policy blog
Energy Vox blog
Eyes on Trade blog
Facebook/publiccitizen

Follow us on Twitter

 

FROM PUBLIC CITIZEN
For Immediate Release:

Feb. 2, 2010

Facebook Fails to Address Privacy Concerns in Proposed Class-Action Lawsuit Settlement

Facebook and Lawyers Will Benefit But Not Social Network’s Users 

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Facebook’s solution to complaints that it violated the privacy rights of potentially millions of its users is no solution at all, Public Citizen said today in opposing the settlement of a class-action lawsuit that was filed against the social networking giant.

The central piece of the proposed settlement is the creation of a nonprofit foundation that would largely be controlled by Facebook. The foundation would be charged with funding projects and initiatives that “promote the cause of online privacy, safety, and security,” which Public Citizen attorney Greg Beck likens to putting the fox in charge of the henhouse.

Under the proposed settlement, Facebook would pay $9.5 million into a settlement fund, with as much as a third of that money going to pay the class-action attorneys. The remaining money would go toward the creation of the new privacy foundation. Facebook would choose one of the foundation’s three directors and have an equal say in the selection of a second. Facebook has already selected its own chief lobbyist to sit on the foundation’s board.

At the heart of the class action lawsuit is Facebook’s Beacon marketing program.  Facebook users complained that online purchases they made from merchandisers participating in the Beacon program were published on Facebook without their permission. Although under the settlement Facebook would terminate Beacon, Facebook had already essentially ended the program before the lawsuit was filed in response to widespread negative publicity.

“Facebook and the lawyers in this case will benefit from this proposed settlement, but it is virtually worthless to Facebook users who are part of this class action,” said Beck, who, along with D.C. lawyer Philip Friedman and Mark Chavez of Chavez & Gertler in San Francisco, represents D.C. resident Ginger McCall in her objection to the proposed settlement. McCall was shocked when she learned that Facebook had published on her profile the titles of movies she rented from Blockbuster’s Web site in 2007 and 2008..

There is no need for an online privacy foundation when several nonprofit organizations dedicated to the issue already exist, Beck said. It’s also troubling that Facebook, a site whose very mission is to make private details of its users readily available to the world at large, would be involved in managing such a foundation, he said. Additionally, closing the essentially defunct Beacon program is a token gesture of no value to class members, Beck said.

Public Citizen is asking the court to reject the proposed settlement.

To view Public Citizen’s objections, go to http://www.citizen.org/litigation/forms/cases/CaseDetails.cfm?cID=597.

###

Public Citizen is a national, nonprofit public interest organization based in Washington, D.C. For more information, please visit www.citizen.org.

 

Copyright © 2014 Public Citizen. Some rights reserved. Non-commercial use of text and images in which Public Citizen holds the copyright is permitted, with attribution, under the terms and conditions of a Creative Commons License. This Web site is shared by Public Citizen Inc. and Public Citizen Foundation. Learn More about the distinction between these two components of Public Citizen.


Public Citizen, Inc. and Public Citizen Foundation

 

Together, two separate corporate entities called Public Citizen, Inc. and Public Citizen Foundation, Inc., form Public Citizen. Both entities are part of the same overall organization, and this Web site refers to the two organizations collectively as Public Citizen.

Although the work of the two components overlaps, some activities are done by one component and not the other. The primary distinction is with respect to lobbying activity. Public Citizen, Inc., an IRS § 501(c)(4) entity, lobbies Congress to advance Public Citizen’s mission of protecting public health and safety, advancing government transparency, and urging corporate accountability. Public Citizen Foundation, however, is an IRS § 501(c)(3) organization. Accordingly, its ability to engage in lobbying is limited by federal law, but it may receive donations that are tax-deductible by the contributor. Public Citizen Inc. does most of the lobbying activity discussed on the Public Citizen Web site. Public Citizen Foundation performs most of the litigation and education activities discussed on the Web site.

You may make a contribution to Public Citizen, Inc., Public Citizen Foundation, or both. Contributions to both organizations are used to support our public interest work. However, each Public Citizen component will use only the funds contributed directly to it to carry out the activities it conducts as part of Public Citizen’s mission. Only gifts to the Foundation are tax-deductible. Individuals who want to join Public Citizen should make a contribution to Public Citizen, Inc., which will not be tax deductible.

 

To become a member of Public Citizen, click here.
To become a member and make an additional tax-deductible donation to Public Citizen Foundation, click here.