Whether New York prosecutors would take action for a misdemeanor also seems unlikely. However, Facebook and MySpace have come under fire from various state attorneys general, including New York’s, for not doing enough to protect minors. According to McGeveran, the new ad program gives New York additional leverage in dealing with Facebook.
When the New York State Legislature drafted a privacy law 100 years ago, Facebook and online advertising didn’t exist. However, now the law, the social network and the ads that help the web darling monetize its traffic, are on a collision course.
Facebook’s new ad program may violate New York’s privacy law and opens the company up to lawsuits from users and criminal liability. If succeeded in a court of law, it could have the untapped potential to openly question the privacy law in other states.
The program, which attaches ads to the names and pictures of Facebook users, violates the law, according to McGeveran because the Facebook does not have prior written consent from its members to use their names and likeness for commercial purposes.
To compound matters, McGeveran also said that advertisers who use Facebook’s new program could also open themselves and their brands up to lawsuits from Facebook users. But as McGeveran points out, users might not be too keen to sue Facebook.