Oct 062012
 October 6, 2012  Posted by  Business, Court, Featured News

Back in August, I noted that a judge had rejected a proposed settlement in Fraley v. Facebook, a lawsuit over “sponsored stories.”  Eric Goldman points us to a copy of the amended settlement proposal, now available online.  Here are some of the terms of the amended proposal:

  1. Facebook will revise its Terms of Use to include language substantially as follows:

About Advertisements and Other Commercial Content Served or Enhanced by Facebook

Our goal is to deliver advertising and other commercial or sponsored content, such as Facebook Ads and Sponsored Stories, that is valuable to our users and advertisers. In order to help us do that, you agree to the following:

You give us permission to use your name, profile picture, content, and information in connection with commercial, sponsored, or related content (such as a brand you like) served or enhanced by us. This means, for example, that you permit a business or other entity to pay us to display your name and/or profile picture with your content or information. If you have selected a specific audience for your content or information, we will respect your choice when we use it.

If you are under the age of eighteen (18), or under any other applicable age of majority, you represent that at least one of your parents or legal guardians has also agreed to the terms of this section (and the use of your name, profile picture, content, and information) on your behalf.

2.  Facebook will create an easily accessible mechanism that enables users to view, on a going-forward basis, the subset of their interactions and other content on Facebook that have been displayed in Sponsored Stories (if any). Facebook will further engineer settings to enable users, upon viewing the interactions and other content that are being displayed in Sponsored Stories, to control which of these interactions and other content are eligible to appear in additional Sponsored Stories. Without limiting the foregoing, but for the sake of clarity, these settings will include the ability to enable users to prevent individual interactions and other content (or categories of interactions and other content) from appearing in additional Sponsored Stories.

3.  Facebook will revise its Statement of Rights and Responsibilities to provide that Facebook users under the age of eighteen (18), or under any other applicable age of majority, represent that their parent or legal guardian consents to the use of their name and likeness in connection with commercial, sponsored, or related content. Facebook will encourage new users, upon or soon after joining Facebook, to include in their profile information about their family, including their parents and children. Where both a parent and a minor child are users and confirm their relationship, Facebook’s systems will record this confirmed parent/child relationship and utilize it as further described below:

Facebook will add an easily accessible link in the Family Safety Center (https://www.facebook.com/safety) to the tool it currently provides that enables parents to prevent the names and likenesses of their minor children from appearing alongside Facebook Ads (currently available at https://www.facebook.com/help/contact/328678960533614) and Facebook will extend this tool to enable parents to also prevent the names and likenesses of their minor children from appearing in Sponsored Stories. Facebook will also implement a method for enabling parents with a confirmed parental relationship with a minor user to utilize this tool through their own Facebook accounts, without obtaining access to their children’s accounts. Finally, Facebook will add a control in minor users’ profiles that enables each minor user to indicate that his or her parents are not Facebook users. Where a minor user indicates that his or her parents are not on Facebook, Facebook will make the minor ineligible to appear in Sponsored Stories until he or she reaches the age of 18, until the minor changes his or her setting to indicate that his or her parents are on Facebook, or until a confirmed parental relationship with the minor user is established.

There’s more, of course, and while I have some concerns about Facebook being able to know more about family connections, I do like the idea of them making minors ineligible for sponsored stories use if there is no parent on Facebook who can monitor the minor’s activity in that regard.

With respect to the $20,000,000 Settlement Fund, each authorized claimant might get a one-time cash payment equal to ten dollars ($10). It could be more, but if it works out to $5.00 or less per claimant, the court has the option to just order that portion of the monies in the fund go to cy pres recipients and not claimants.  The plaintiffs in the case would each get no more than $12,500 as an Incentive Award.

I’m sure others will dissect and comment on the proposed settlement in additional detail.  I do think this settlement does improve privacy controls and protections, although it’s a shame it takes class action lawsuits to achieve what many of us think Facebook should be doing voluntarily and from the git-go.

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