A Brooklyn father, on behalf of his son, filed a class-action lawsuit against the Palo Alto, Calif.-based company, claiming that the site shows his son’s “likes” to advertise products. These “social ads,” the suit alleges, violate civil rights laws because it didn’t ask for parental consent.
“There is no mechanism in place by which a user can prevent their name and likeness from appearing on a Facebook page if they have ‘liked’ it,” according to the complaint, adding that Facebook began this practice in November 2007 with RSVP postings to advertised events.
A spokesman for Facebook declined to comment, saying the company has yet to see the lawsuit. But the suit adds to the growing scrutiny over the company’s goal to promote a more open world, sometimes by walking the line on privacy issues.
According to a survey from the London School of Economics, nearly half of tweens access Facebook, illustrating the site’s failed attempts to keep out minors. Last week, Facebook unveiled new tools to counter security issues and misbehavior on the site in an effort to curb online bullying.
Advertising is Facebook’s main revenue source. In the first quarter alone, 30 percent of all online display ads were shown on the social site. Digital ad company Efficient Frontier estimates the cost per click on Facebook increased 40 percent during the January-March period, as companies find the site an increasingly visible and interactive place to promote their products.
Facebook is reportedly planning an IPO the beginning of 2011.