US Judge Weighing Final Verdict In Facebook Privacy Settlement
June 30, 2013

US Judge Weighing Final Verdict In Facebook Privacy Settlement

redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports - Your Universe Online

A proposed settlement in the case of privacy concerns stemming from Facebook's "Sponsored Stories" program does not go far enough to protect content created by minors from advertisers, children's rights advocates reportedly told a US judge on Friday.

As part of the settlement, which received preliminary approval from US District Judge Richard Seeborg last December, Facebook agreed to pay out $20 million in compensation divided equally amongst users who were part of a class action lawsuit complaining about the advertising program.

As part of the lawsuit, the popular social media website also promised to give users more control about what information can be shared as part of the "Sponsored Stories," which published their "likes" of certain products or services. The lawsuit was initially filed by five plaintiffs two years ago because Facebook accessed members' content without compensating them or allowing them to opt out of the program.

"The case has highlighted tension between privacy concerns and Facebook's drive to monetize user content," Reuters reporter Dan Levine said. "Facebook charged advertisers nearly $234 million for Sponsored Stories between January 2011 and August 2012, court filings show."

"At a hearing on Friday, Children's Advocacy Institute attorney Robert Fellmeth told Seeborg that no minors should have their content shared with advertisers," he added. "Seeborg did not say how he would rule, but said his role is only to say if the settlement is fair. My function here is not to craft the perfect policy for minors," Seeborg said.

Facebook recently announced that they would be altering their advertising program, eliminating the name "Sponsored Stories," but still sharing information about what goods that users have "liked" on the social network. Michael Rhodes, an attorney with the company, said that the settlement would still apply to the company's new advertising policies.

In related news, officials at the social media website announced late last week that they would no longer allow advertisements to appear on pages that include sexual, violent or other types of graphic content. That decision came roughly four weeks after several businesses pulled their ads from the social media website, citing reports of pages on Facebook that promoted violence against women.