Facebook accused of faking member endorsements

A new lawsuit alleges that the social network falsifies members' likes for its sponsored ads.

Jennifer Van Grove Former Senior Writer / News
Jennifer Van Grove covered the social beat for CNET. She loves Boo the dog, CrossFit, and eating vegan. Her jokes are often in poor taste, but her articles are not.
Jennifer Van Grove
2 min read
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Just weeks after Facebook was sued for allegedly intercepting private messages, the social network finds itself forced to defend another complaint that it conducts unlawful activities, this time for supposedly falsifying member endorsements -- aka "likes" -- for advertising purposes.

The latest complaint, which is seeking class action status, was filed Thursday by lawyers for Colorado resident and Facebook user Anthony Ditirro with the San Jose division of the Northern District Court of California.

Ditirro asserts that in November of 2013 Facebook misrepresented that he liked USA Today in a sponsored advertisement shown to at least one of his social network friends.

"Although plaintiff has nothing negative to say about USA Today newspapers, plaintiff is not an avid reader of USA Today, nor does plaintiff endorse the newspaper," the complaint states, adding that Ditirro has never visited USA Today's Web site, or clicked the like button on USA Today's Web site or Facebook Page. "Defendant knowingly used plaintiff's likeness and Facebook profile to advertise to the general public that plaintiff endorsed USA Today without plaintiff's permission."

The complaint accuses Facebook of breaking a number of California civil and business codes, and argues that class members should receive statutory and punitive damages -- of at least $750 per person -- for the unauthorized use of their likeness. Ditirro's suit is on behalf of all US Facebook users whose profiles were manipulated to manufacture endorsements without their consent.

"The complaint is without merit and we will defend ourselves vigorously," a Facebook spokesperson told CNET.

The latest class action complaint closely trails another alleging like-related wrongdoing by the social network. At the end of December, Facebook was accused of intercepting members' private messages to mine the data for profit.

The full complaint is embedded below.

[via GigaOm]