Ohio attorney general sues Facebook affiliates

An Ohio Attorney General is suing Meta, Inc., related to revelations from a book that came out of a class-action lawsuit the plaintiffs have brought against Facebook. Attorney General Mike DeWine said Friday that…

Ohio attorney general sues Facebook affiliates

An Ohio Attorney General is suing Meta, Inc., related to revelations from a book that came out of a class-action lawsuit the plaintiffs have brought against Facebook. Attorney General Mike DeWine said Friday that this is the first lawsuit that has been filed by a state over claims Facebook has failed to stop information being shared without users’ permission. Meta owns Seven North Media, Inc., a Kansas-based media company that is described in the lawsuit as “far and away Facebook’s biggest affiliate partner.”

That affiliate has 1,100 local and national websites in the U.S. and Canada in a variety of categories. Some of those include: The Lantern of the Northwest, the Ardmore Star, and the I-70 Travel Blog. And the lawsuit states the following of Seven North Media:

Seven North Media represents, manages, or has sold advertising space for, a number of popular local destinations and local businesses on a worldwide scale that reach at least hundreds of millions of Facebook users in the form of advertisements that appear alongside social network posts. These visitors will be offered the opportunity to take a quiz, and if they answer correctly, they will be invited to take the “Seven North Media Search for More!” video, which is available on one of those sites. The Answers package, which can be found on microvillagego.com, is advertised by a “Video Reply” button at the top of the page and a “Scan the URL” link at the bottom. The user must provide a phone number or e-mail address in order to take the quiz, and upon answering a question, a video about Seven North Media is automatically launched.

The complaint specifically says Seven North Media makes considerable money on the page with 50 posts per day and gets paid a “running rate” of $2,000-$3,000 per day, “that’s more than the defendants themselves would ever make doing their own Facebook Pages.”

The lawsuit alleges that Seven North Media has exceeded the terms of agreements they have with Facebook, including not hiding cookies, sharing browser history with Facebook, and tracking other sites that visit their own site. And in particular, the complaint alleges that Facebook has violated the privacy policy and open data access and that Facebook has failed to secure consent from users, and that information collected from those without their consent is disclosed to others, including “the advertisers, other social networks, as well as to the respective Facebook administrators.”

This lawsuit alleges violations of Ohio law, including an Ohio Consumer Sales Practices Act, a I-270 Liability Act, and a Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act.

The case is labeled Complaint No. 16-cv-00278 and no response has been filed at this time.

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