Canadian woman sues Facebook over photo in ad

Debbie Douez liked Cool Entrepreneurs, but she didn't want her photo used in an advertisement for the Facebook group. 

A Vancouver woman is taking legal action against Facebook after her name and profile details were used in an ad on the site without her permission.

In the class action lawsuit, Debbie Douez said after she clicked the Like button on a group called Cool Entrepreneurs, her photo and name were displayed in an ad shown to her Facebook friends last year. Her photo appeared with the caption “Debbie Douez likes Cool Entrepreneurs.” The ad was a Sponsored Story, a service Facebook started selling in January 2011.

"If you're going to be using somebody's name or somebody's portrait for advertising purposes, you need to obtain their consent," said Douez’s lawyer, Luciana Brasil, according to CBC. "The position that Ms. Douez takes in this case is that her consent was not sought or obtained."

Brasil claimed the fine print in the site’s privacy section is not adequate and that Facebook’s advertising practice as it stands breaches part of Canada’s Privacy Act. She added that similar class action suits will be filed in Saskatchewan and Manitoba.

Facebook, however, offers a way for its users to opt out of appearing in such ads in its Statement of Rights and Responsibilities:

“You can use your privacy settings to limit how your name and profile picture may be associated with commercial, sponsored, or related content (such as a brand you like) served or enhanced by us. You give us permission to use your name and profile picture in connection with that content, subject to the limits you place.”

Of course, Douez’s friends could naturally discover that she Liked the Cool Entrepreneurs group simply by accessing her profile, and that information would be shared with her friends anyway unless she changed her settings.

Her issue is with Facebook profiteering from her personal information apparently without her consent—even though users give their permission for Facebook to use photos and profile information in ads when they sign up.

Photo by .reid

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