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Blockbuster Sued Over Facebook Ads

Blockbuster is being sued over their Facebook advertising campaign. Texas resident Cathryn Elaine Harris says Blockbuster violated the federal Videotape Privacy Protection Act. The company used the Facebook Beacon that told what movies she rents.

Harris says Facebook didn’t get her written consent to share the information. She filed a class-action suit, and is asking for at least $2,500 for each violation of the statute. The law was passed in 1988 after a newspaper obtained the video rental records of U.S. Supreme Court nominee Robert Bork.

Beacon works by tracking what people on Facebook purchase on other websites, including Blockbuster’s site. Then it tells your Facebook friends in hopes that they’ll want to also want to buy similar products.

eBay May Sell off Skype Later This Year

Just a couple weeks ago, there were rumors running around that Google was looking to buy Skype off eBay—er, from eBay. While that rumor hasn’t materialized (yet), eBay has now admitted that they may sell off Skype later this year.

The Financial Times is reporting that eBay CEO John Donahoe would be willing to part with the P2P/VoIP company if they couldn’t find a way to integrate it with their core eCommerce business. Donahoe replaced Meg Whitman as CEO two and a half weeks ago.

Perhaps this is something they should have thought of before buying the company for a reported $3.1B in 2005. eBay wrote off Skype with an impairment charge on the company in Q3 2007.

Buy a Twitter Account or Google Tour on eBay

It started with Rocketboom founder Andrew Baron putting his Twitter account up for auction on eBay. He had 1,500 followers then and at last check he’s at 1,757.

The auction was bid up to over $1200 before he ended the auction (about as many followers as our own Andy Beal has). eBay called him to ask him to delete the auction, but later said it wasn’t against their terms of service. Didn’t matter anyway – he deleted the auction before it ended.

Baron twittered:

Yesterday, one of the most unexpected events that ever happened to me in the online space, lead me to delete the auction suddenly.

Facebook Adds Lexicon, Mini-Feed Features

Yesterday we mentioned that Facebook would be delaying their redesign until later this spring—but that hasn’t stopped the social network from rolling out a few new features in the meantime.

The first feature, announced yesterday, is called Lexicon. The feature is designed to show the popularity of terms on the site’s millions of “walls.” (For the uninitiated, the “Wall” is the section of each individual or group profile page where people can leave messages.) Lexicon generates graphs and charts of the information to show, as CNET puts it, “how many Facebook members are talking about” your query. CNET compares the data to Google’s Zeitgeist.

Facebook says of the new product:

Twitter, Your “Get Out of Jail Free” Card

The next time your boss asks you why you spend so much time on Twitter, there’s a new reason you can add to the normal “I’m building buzz and making connections” speech.

Twitter might just help you get out of jail.

According to the The Mercury News, a 29-year-old UC Berkeley journalism student used Twitter to alert his network he had been arrested by Egyptian police for nothing more than taking a photo. As he was being carted off to a jail–presumably without many of the rights you’d expert in the US–he managed to alert his Twitter followers.

Meebo Hires New CRO to Raise Revenue

Multiple platform instant messaging web service Meebo has hired Carter Brokaw as their Chief Revenue Officer. Meebo launched in September 2005 with investment from Sequoia Capital and Draper Fisher Jurvetson.

Meebo has been popular because it can let people chat online, in most cases even if a firewall would block IM. Translation – you might be able IM on your college network or at work.

Meebo has focused on raising revenues and capital. First, they looked for a buyer, Techcrunch says the rumor is Meebo was hoping to be bought, with a $250 million valuation. Even though their revenues are said to be around $1 million. So rather than sell, they’re getting another round of capital – this time with a valuation of between $175 – $200 million.

Facebook to Settle with ConnectU

As with most legal battles, the ConnectU suit against Facebook has begun to drag out: first filed in September 2004, the legal battle over who originally created the source code for Facebook is still ongoing. Last July, a Massachusetts Federal judge ruled that ConnectU needed concrete evidence to bring their suit. It looked like the suit would die after the ruling stated that “claims must have a factual basis.”

But that’s not how our wonderful legal system works in the United States. The suit was once again opened after a circuit court judge granted ConnectU the right to file an appeal last Thursday. CNET reports: