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Facebook to pay £6m to settle court 'likes' suit

Facebook is in hot water after using users' 'likes' without their permission.

Facebook has agreed to pay $10m (£6.36m) to charity to settle a court case.

The social network was accused of violating users' rights by not letting them control the use of their own names and photographs, Reuters reports. Facebook? Using your information to make money? Whatever next?

Five people on the social network were disgruntled about how Facebook used their 'likes' of certain advertisers in the 'sponsored stories' feature without any financial reward or giving them the option of opting out, which seems a bit rude. This has been revealed by court documents that have only just made public.

The people complained that their friends would see their name, profile picture, and the fact they 'liked' a certain advertiser. This would all be in their 'sponsored story' section, which they claim is a violation of California state law.

Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg described a trusted referral as the "Holy Grail" of advertising. Chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg said a sponsored story was worth two to three times as much as a standard advert on the site. 

Considering Facebook's size, the suit could have included nearly one in every three Americans, with potentially billions of dollars of damages. US District Judge Lucy Koh was satisfied the plaintiffs had shown economic injury could occur from Facebook's use of their names, photographs and likenesses, though it wasn't made evident exactly how. I can see why they would be annoyed, and don't think their likenesses should be used this way, but it's not quite clear how they'll suffer financially.

Koh wrote: "California has long recognised a right to protect one's name and likeness against appropriation by others for their advantage."

It's not the first time the social network has been in hot water over privacy concerns. It was previously criticised for activating facial recognition without asking permission, doling out your phone number, and telling everyone where you are until you tell it not to. Tsk.

Is this a reasonable ruling? Or should Facebook be able to do what it likes with the info you give it? Let me know in the comments, or on our Facebook page.