Posted August 28, 2010 8:24 pm by with 6 comments

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There are ads that I like. Target is always kitschy and catchy. Those Mac vs PC ads are charming and I wish the Gap would go back to those great dance commercials. I really liked those. But when Facebook asks me to “like” a sidebar ad, I find that weird. Two parents in Los Angeles are finding it more than just weird. They say it’s illegal and they’re suing Facebook over it.

According to a report at ClickZ, the case stems from the idea that encouraging  children to “like” an ad, Facebook is, in effect, asking them to use peer pressure to get their friends to click and that’s exploitation of a minor for profit.

In theory, it sounds like it has merit, anytime you pull out kids, profit and privacy, it’s bound to make people nervous. The reality is that this isn’t likely to go far. Like the incident with the Dr. Pepper campaign, Facebook will say that they aren’t aiming the ads at minors and they can’t help it if kids want to click. The other problem is a question of severity. So they give their favorite sneaker brand a thumbs up. It’s not like they’re selling drugs or alcohol to their friends.

I’m all for the protection of children, but honestly, I think kids are smarter than they’re given credit for. They aren’t confused by what’s an ad and what isn’t. And if they have plans to secretly max out mom’s credit card for Farmville bucks, then a thumbs down on an ad isn’t going to stop them.

Finally, with so many major brands running Facebook Fan Pages with games, coupons and discussions, is liking one of those any different than liking an ad in the sidebar?

Lawsuit or not, I don’t think those like buttons are going away anytime soon.

  • Thx for the nice post! 😉

  • I don’t think that the like button on FB ads could cause lawsuits like this.

  • Now I think I have seen everything. So many people of all ages use facebook, I can’t believe that they think that the marketing is directed towards kids. Basically the like is a way for companies to judge the effectiveness of a campaign

  • Obviously, these are parents who monitor their children online – good for them. And are they also monitoring where their children are now checking in via FB’s Place pages? Are they aware that the default privacy setting on who can check someone into a Place is “everyone”? It’s an invitation for a parent’s worst nightmare – far worse than their kids endorsing a product with a click.

  • People will sue for just about anything, but I can see how this is physiologically conditioning the young minds

  • just proves you can sue for anything