As the world's largest social media site Facebook generates quite a few legal issues.
Although Lawzilla has no connection with Facebook at all, we thought it would be worthwhile to catalog issues that tend to keep coming up so that you may find answers or further direction to help resolve your problem.
Warning: Facebook's complaint pages can be hard to find, lead to dead links, be circular, and leave you frustrated. Yes, we've been there.
Facebook's attorney that charges $750 per hour (or more by the time you read this):
1601 Willow Road
Menlo Park, CA 94025
Joe Cutler, Esq.
1201 Third Avenue, Suite 4900
Seattle, WA 98101-3099
Frequently Asked Questions
Someone is pretending to be me on Facebook and using my name and pictures without my permission.
Facebook's has a page for reporting imposter accounts here: https://www.facebook.com/help/contact/169486816475808
Be prepared with:
1. The url of the page where someone is pretending to be you.
2. A scanned copy of your government issued ID to prove who you are.
Impersonating someone else on the Internet is a crime in California. Since Facebook is based in California it is possible anyone pretending to be someone else on Facebook is committing a California crime.
California Penal Code Section 528.5 states:
(a) Notwithstanding any other provision of law, any person
who knowingly and without consent credibly impersonates another
actual person through or on an Internet Web site or by other
electronic means for purposes of harming, intimidating, threatening,
or defrauding another person is guilty of a public offense punishable
pursuant to subdivision (d).
Although subdivision (e) refers to suing for damages and Penal Code Section 502, that section only allows the owner of a computer or computer network to sue for damages caused by unauthorized use of their system.
(b) For purposes of this section, an impersonation is credible if
another person would reasonably believe, or did reasonably believe,
that the defendant was or is the person who was impersonated.
(c) For purposes of this section, "electronic means" shall include
opening an e-mail account or an account or profile on a social
networking Internet Web site in another person's name.
(d) A violation of subdivision (a) is punishable by a fine not
exceeding one thousand dollars ($1,000), or by imprisonment in a
county jail not exceeding one year, or by both that fine and
(e) In addition to any other civil remedy available, a person who
suffers damage or loss by reason of a violation of subdivision (a)
may bring a civil action against the violator for compensatory
damages and injunctive relief or other equitable relief pursuant to
paragraphs (1), (2), (4), and (5) of subdivision (e) and subdivision
(g) of Section 502.
(f) This section shall not preclude prosecution under any other
This means Facebook could sue and collect damages for imposters using its site, but if you are the victim you need to find another way to sue and to prove damages.
Facebook not only gets damages, it can collect punitive damages and recover attorney's fees.
If you think it is unfair that Facebook gets its attorney paid for, and you have to pay an attorney and prove your harm, you are right, it is unfair. Please contact your a California legislator to have victims of identity theft protected more than the owners of computer networks.
Facebook is accusing me of copyright infringement and taking down my pictures and videos for the violation.
You may have received a notice from Facebook, but Facebook is not making the claim. Whoever claims to own the picture, video, or audio is making the claim.
Here is how it works ....
Although Facebook owns the website facebook.com, Facbook is not liable for copyright infringement for pictures or videos you or others upload. Facebook has immunity from being liable.
However, Facebook loses that immunity if the copyright owner submits what is called a DMCA complaint requesting that their property be removed.
If Facebook does not comply with the demand it could be legally liable. Damages for copyright infringement can be massive so Facebook has good reason to comply with the take-down requirement.
Keep in mind Facebook is acting automatically. It is not making a determination that you in fact have violated copyright.
If you disagree with the infringement claim, you can submit what is called a counter-DMCA notice and that will force Facebook to reinstate your pictures, video or audio.
You and the other party making the copyright claim can then go duke it out in court to decide who is right.
Facebook's copyright infringement page is here: https://www.facebook.com/help/www/400287850027717
How do I subpoena Facebook?
One reason for a subpoena may be to obtain the IP address of someone using Facebook's service to commit illegal activity.
Another may be to obtain registration information to uncover someone using a fake name.
First, you need to file a lawsuit. You cannot serve someone with a subpoena to get information without the subpoena being part of a lawsuit.
If you are looking at a catch-22 because you need a subpoena to get a name so you know who to sue in a lawsuit, what you will likely do in your jurisdiction is sue a "Doe" defendant. For example, Jill Smith v. Doe Defendant. Then, after getting the name of the person via a subpoena file paperwork replacing the Doe Defendant placeholder with the name of the real defendant.
Second, if the subpoena is challenged your lawsuit will need to support a legal basis for serving it and requesting the information you want.
Third, you fill out a subpoena form requesting the information you want. The form will vary from state to state.
Fourth, you have someone serve Facebook with the completed subpoena. This is the address you serve:
CSC - LAWYERS INCORPORATING SERVICE
2710 GATEWAY OAKS DR STE 150N
SACRAMENTO CA 95833
Can I reference my Facebook page in an advertisement
Probably. The reason for the "probably" and not a simple "yes" is that no one has seen your advertisement and context. Only a lawyer could give you a definitive answer after looking at what you are doing.
As a general rule, referencing your Facebook page is one reason to have a Facebook page. Especially business pages.
You are making what is called a nominative use of the Facebook name indicating where your information can be found. You are not suggesting Facebook is associated with your company or approves of your company or your ad.
For example: "Get more information at http://facebook.com/myproductpage" is a proper use of the Facebook trademark in an advertisement.
For example: "Facebook, the world's largest social site has recommended our product by giving us a Facebook page at http://facebook.com/myproductpage" would not be a proper use of Facebook's trademark. (Assuming you merely created a page and you do not have a review specifically from Facebook "recommending" you.)
Can I remove a post from Facebook?
At first blush this is more of a technical issue than a legal issue. We believe Facebook allows you to remove posts you make.
However, what if your post is shared by others? Or your Facebook account is terminated? Or your post was not in your account but made in a group or forum setting?
Unless you can establish a legal reason to force Facebook to scrub a post from its services it is probably not going to happen.
Possible legal reasons:
- There is a new California law starting January 1, 2015 (see Business and Professions Code Section 22580), which provides that if you were a minor when you made the post (that means you were not yet 18 years old) you will be allowed to force Facebook to remove your post or other information. This is the so-called "Erase Bill".
For these legal reasons you may need a court order to force Facebook to remove certain information. Initially, you should of course try to work with Facebook and we cannot predict what the outcome may be.
- You were impersonated.
- Copyrighted material.
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