BRITISH COLUMBIA

B.C. Woman Hopes U.S. Settlement Will Help Facebook Lawsuit

09/12/2013 11:42 EDT | Updated 11/12/2013 05:12 EST
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A B.C. woman who is suing Facebook for using her photo in an advertisement hopes a U.S. settlement for the same thing will boost her case.

Last month, a U.S. judge approved a $20-million settlement against the social media giant.

Debbie Douez is trying to launch a class-action suit over claims Facebook uses ordinary people to unwittingly endorse products.

Lawyer Greg McMullen says Facebook used 1.8 million British Columbians in sponsored stories in one six-month span alone.

"It quite amazing really to think that that many people have been turned into spokespeople,” he said.

Sponsored stories are when a user "likes" a brand or a product, and that company then pays Facebook to place the endorsement on the or news feeds of the user’s friends.

“It doesn't have to be you clicking on what seems to be an advertisement,” McMullen said.

“It could be you clicking that you are attending a particular event, it could be that you are clicking like to indicate your political preferences or to receive updates or to get a free promotion - so any of those actions could actually be repurposed into a sponsored story.”

He says that means many people don't know they're in sponsored stories.

"We would like Facebook to get the proper consent before using people in advertising, essentially,” McMullen said.

In affidavits filed in B.C. Supreme Court, Facebook says businesses and political parties have paid for sponsored stories in B.C.

The hearing for class-action certification is set for November.

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