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.