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June 27, 2013

MEDIA ADVISORY

Public Citizen to Tell Federal Court: Settlement Over Facebook’s Use of Members’ Images in Ads Should Not Be Approved

Argument Friday in San Francisco; Proposed Class-Action Settlement Violates Laws in Seven States Requiring Parental Consent for Use of a Child’s Likeness

WHAT:   Public Citizen attorney Scott Michelman will argue before a federal court in San Francisco that a proposed class-action settlement with Facebook over ads featuring members’ images without their consent should be rejected because it violates laws in seven states that prohibit the use of a child’s likeness without parental consent. The states are California, Florida, Tennessee, Virginia, Wisconsin, New York and Oklahoma. Public Citizen is representing six parents from several of those states who have teenaged children.

In addition, Michelman will tell the court that Facebook’s plan to drop the name of its ad program (“sponsored stories”) and fold it into other ad programs would make a poor settlement even worse, because the settlement requires reforms only to the “sponsored stories” program, not to any similar program to which Facebook gives a different name.

The lawsuit over Facebook’s “sponsored stories” ad program was filed in March 2011, and the parties’ lawyers proposed a settlement earlier this year. Under the ad program, when a Facebook member clicks a button to indicate he or she “likes” a company that advertises on Facebook, Facebook creates an ad that displays the Facebook member’s name and image in a manner that suggests the person endorses the product. Facebook does not seek the consent of members to use their images for advertising – or parental consent when the users are children. The proposed settlement would not require Facebook to stop using minors’ likenesses without parental consent. The settlement would require Facebook to implement certain other limited policy changes but permit Facebook to abandon those changes after two years. For more information about what’s wrong with the Facebook settlement, visit http://www.citizen.org/pressroom/pressroomredirect.cfm?ID=3879.

WHEN:   10 a.m. PDT Friday, June 28

WHERE:    Courtroom of Judge Richard Seeborg,U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, 450 Golden Gate Ave., San Francisco

WHO:  Scott Michelman, attorney, Public Citizen

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