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B.C. Woman Sues Facebook For Using Her Photo

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A Vancouver woman has filed a class action lawsuit against Facebook for profiting from an advertisement that used her photo and profile information without her consent.

Debbie Douez is claiming that Facebook, Inc. allowed her name and photo to be used without her permission for an advertisement that appeared on Facebook last year.

In the notice of civil claim, which was filed in B.C. Supreme Court on March 29, Douez describes how her name and profile photo were taken from her account and used to advertise a service to other Facebook users.

Sometime after she clicked the "Like" button for a Facebook group called "Cool Entrepreneurs," Douez's photo with the caption "Debbie Douez likes Cool Entrepreneurs" began appearing in a sidebar advertisement to her Facebook contacts.

The advertisement was one of Facebook's "Sponsored Stories," which is a service that Facebook began selling to third parties in January 2011. Since January of this year, the "Sponsored Stories" links moved down from the right-hand side of a user's news feed, and began appearing in the user's feed itself.

Lawyer Luciana Brasil, who is representing Douez in the claim, said that Douez was never asked whether she wanted to endorse a good or service.

"If you're going to be using somebody's name or somebody's portrait for advertising purposes, you need to obtain their consent," Brasil said.

"The position that Ms. Douez takes in this case is that her consent was not sought or obtained."

Brasil said the fine print in the privacy section of the Facebook service is not adequate, and that the company's current advertising practice breaches a section of Canada's Privacy Act.

Brasil said that similar class action filings will be made in Saskatchewan and Manitoba.

Canada has more than 17 million Facebook users.

Facebook, Inc. has a month to respond to the claim filed in B.C. None of the allegations have been proven in court.