Is Facebook's 'Friend Finder' unlawful?

15 January 2016

facebook mobile You know the 'Friend Finder' feature on Facebook? It's a pretty key service offered by the social network, isn't it?

Well, a high court in Germany has said that the feature is 'unlawful', that encourages users to market Facebook to their contacts.

So what's the problem with that?

The Federal Court of Justice ruled that this constitutes advertising harassment. The 'Friend Finder' feature allows Facebook to get permission from users to take all the email addresses from someone's address book, which the social network can then use to invite non-users to use Facebook.

The court says that this is a deceptive marketing practice, and that Facebook have not sufficiently informed their users that this was how they'd be using their contacts’ data.

The VZBV, who brought the case to court, said that this is going to see a knock-on effect for other companies who employ similar types of advertising: "What the judgement means exactly for the current Friends Finder, we now have to find out. In addition to Facebook, other services use this form of advertising to attract new users. They must now probably rethink."

It is a sneaky way of Facebook getting the email addresses of people who have no intention of signing up with them, which is something of a worry. Given that a lot of people don't trust Facebook at all, this court ruling could be seen as good news. However, you suspect FB will find a way around it.

One to keep tabs on.

TOPICS:   Social Media   Privacy

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