SANTA MONICA, CA — Consumer Watchdog today opposed the proposed settlement in a class action suit against Facebook for using Facebook users’ personal information in Sponsored Stories advertisements without their consent, saying that deal “is not fair, adequate or reasonable and provides no direct or indirect benefit to class members.”
In a letter to Judge Richard Seeborg, Consumer Watchdog Staff Attorney Laura Antonini wrote that the case, Fraley v. Facebook, currently pending in the Northern District Court in California, offered “a unique opportunity for Facebook users to gain control over the social network’s collection, retention and distribution of their personal information, but the terms of the proposed settlement agreement provide no such meaningful relief to class members.”
“Under the proposed settlement Facebook is poised to continue to misappropriate its users’ personal information without their consent,” wrote Antonini. “Indeed, Facebook recently expanded Sponsored Stories to its mobile platform, an arena where the misappropriation of personal information has far reaching and potentially dangerous consequences; the proposed settlement does not address this major expansion.”
Read Consumer Watchdog’s letter to Judge Seeborg here.
Consumer Watchdog offered these objections to the proposed settlement:
— The proposed settlement provides no monetary relief to class members.
— The injunctive relief is inadequate.
— The cy pres distributions raise serious problems.
— Class counsel is requesting $10 million in attorney’s fees, amounting to 100 percent of the value of ostensible relief to the class (the cy pres fund)
“The proposed revisions and additions to Facebook’s onerous user agreement do not alert users to Facebook’s use of names, photographs, and other personal information in Sponsored Stories advertisements,” wrote Antonini. “The settlement agreement does not even allow users to opt-out of Sponsored Stories. In effect, the injunctive relief provisions will permit Facebook to continue the conduct alleged in the complaint without ever obtaining actual, meaningful and bargained-for consent, in the same manner that it did all along.”
The letter also expressed the concern that Facebook participated in the selection of cy pres recipients. “Further, it is unclear whether class counsel have insured that no cy pres payments are proposed to an entity in which Facebook has any interest, financial or otherwise. And some of the proposed cy pres recipients do not further the interests of the silent class members. Finally, there is no mechanism for monitoring the recipients’ expenditures of the cy pres funds. These shortcomings merit rejection on their own,” the letter said.
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