A case claiming Facebookers should be entitled to the gain in ad revenue for “liking” products and companies on the social networking site will continue in court. A federal judge has rejected Facebook’s bid to dismiss the case, which accuses the site of violating California’s “right of publicity” statute. In January the site introduced Sponsored Stories, a sidebar that appears on many Facebook pages telling users that specific friends “like” certain products or companies. When announcing the addition, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg said endorsements by users’ friends made viewers twice as likely to recall the ad and three times as likely to buy the product. Founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg said of Sponsored Stories, “a trusted referral is the Holy Grail of advertising.”
However, plaintiffs who seek to represent tens of millions of Facebook users say users should be entitled to the gain in ad revenue from any unwitting endorsements. Under California’s “right of publicity,” celebrities and ordinary citizens have the right to control how their names and pictures are used for commercial endorsements. Not only is the suit alleging “sponsored stories” violates this right of publicity, but also that is violates the unfair trade practices law because users never agreed to participate, cannot entirely opt of Sponsored Stories and, in many cases, weren’t endorsing a product but simply clicked “like” on a sponsor’s Facebook page only to get a discount or view content. We’re asking readers, what do you think of the case?