Proposed Facebook Settlement for Privacy Violations Deemed Insufficient/Friend-of-the-Court Brief Urges Stronger Privacy Protections for Teen Facebook Users

Center for Digital Democracy Leads Coalition of Children’s, Health, and Consumer Advocates in Challenging District Court Decision Friend-of-the-Court Brief Urges Stronger Privacy Protections for Teen Facebook Users

Washington, DC: The Center for Digital Democracy, joined by a coalition of public health, children’s advocacy, and media justice groups, today filed an amicus curiae (“friend of the court”) brief in a case concerning teen privacy online. In Fraley v. Facebook, the social networking company was sued for violating the privacy of users of all ages, and the company settled with class-action attorneys before going to litigation. Facebook’s proposed settlement, which was eventually approved by the U.S. District Court, does not protect teen users from appearing in sponsored advertisements on Facebook, even though seven states forbid this kind of appropriation without parental consent. Although numerous parties have objected to the settlement, CDD’s brief specifically supports the objection of six families represented by Public Citizen, a leading consumer protection organization.

CDD’s brief covers the many strong policy arguments in favor of having enhanced privacy protections online for teens. The settlement, and Facebook’s current policy, does nothing to account for teen development, or for the differences in how teens use and understand social media. The broad coalition of groups joining in the brief shows what an important case this is for the work of public health, digital-consumer rights, and childhood-obesity experts. Joining the brief are the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, American Academy of Pediatrics, Berkeley Media Studies Group, Center for Global Policy Solutions, Center for Science in the Public Interest, Children Now, Consumer Watchdog, First Star, Media Alliance, Media Literacy Project, Pediatrics Now, Public Health Advocacy Institute, Praxis Project, and Yale Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity.

The proposed settlement was deemed so inimical to the privacy rights of teens that another nonprofit organization, Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, rejected nearly $300,000 in compensation in order to come out against it and to support Public Citizen’s objection. “All of our organizations hope that the Ninth Circuit will see through a deal that was bad for teens and that tramples states’ legal protections of minors. The court has a great opportunity to respect states’ laws and the parents’ role simply by throwing the settlement out,” said Hudson Kingston, CDD’s legal director.

A copy of the coalition’s brief is attached. See too the Appeal by our friends at the Children's Advovacy Institute.