Caterina Fake Startup Pinwheel Forced To Change Name After Lawsuit

Flickr co-founder Caterina Fake's new location-based startup Pinwheel, which is still in private beta, is probably going to be forced to change its name. TechCrunch reported yesterday that a court in New York granted the similarly sounding Pinweel, a mobile photo-sharing site, a preliminary injunction. The central claim was trademark infringement. The main idea here is that the lesser-known but pre-existing Pinweel will be irreparably damaged by the potential consumer confusion over the two similar-sounding companies. The case is still in process but granting a preliminary injunction is a q [...]

Google, Facebook Boost Washington Spending To “Educate” Congress

Google and Facebook both increased their spending trying to educate (read: influence) Congress in the second quarter, according to filings made under the Lobbying Disclosure Act of 1995. Companies that employ lobbyists must file these reports on a quarterly basis. The disclosures show that Facebook spent just under $1 million ($960,000) on lobbying in Q2, up from $650,000 in Q1 2012. That compares with $320,000 spent trying to influence lawmakers in Q2, 2011. A wide range of bills and issues were cited on Facebook's disclosures. Among them privacy, intellectual property reform, corporate [...]

Senate Hearing To Examine Facebook’s Facial Recognition

facebook-logo-sm Facebook's use of facial recognition technology will be discussed during a Senate hearing on Wednesday. According to The Hill, Facebook will send Rob Sherman, its Washington DC-based Manager of Privacy and Public Policy to meet with a sub-panel of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Senator Al Franken called for the hearing. Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.), chairman of the Senate Privacy subcommittee, has voiced concern about Facebook not including sufficient privacy protections in the tagging feature. In comments to the Department of Commerce, Franken has written that Facebook likely holds the la [...]

Facebook To Pay $10 Million To Charity To Settle “Sponsored Stories” Suit

facebook-home-page-featured Last month Facebook settled the "Sponsored Stories" lawsuit brought on by 5 Facebook members and the total numbers have been disclosed this week.  The lawsuit alleged that Facebook violated California's laws by leveraging user photos, content and likelihood without consent. The lawsuit was filed in San Jose, California and Judge Lucy Koh found that the plaintiffs had "shown economic injury could occur through Facebook's use of their name, photographs and likenesses" according to Reuters.  Facebook has agreed to pay $10 million to charity to settle the lawsuit.  The settlement arrang [...]

Facebook May Consider Letting Children Under 13 Create Accounts

facebook-kids-children-featured This morning the Wall Street Journal reported that Facebook is considering letting those under the age of 13 on the site.  Since day one, Facebook has always been accessible for teenagers or adults.  one of the biggest issues with those under the age of 13 who are using Facebook by using false information is that they do put themselves at risk due to their permission levels.  Giving children significantly reduced permission levels and monitoring could help circumvent issues of  forged accounts. CBS news also reports: The company is testing a way to connect kids' accounts with thei [...]

Facebook Sued Over IPO Non-Disclosure Of Q2 Revenue Weakness

facebook-logo The news keeps getting worse for Facebook. First, the IPO didn't do as well as expected, though it made lots of people at Facebook very wealthy. Then came news that Facebook's underwriters (banks) had to intervene on Friday to keep the stock from falling below the $38 offering price because demand was weaker than expected. On Monday and yesterday Facebook shares fell (well) below $38, erasing about $40 billion in market value. And today the company is being sued by shareholders for failing to disclose that Q2 revenues were going to be weaker than previously expected: $1.11 billion vs. rough [...]

Facebook Settles Sponsored Stories Lawsuit, Terms Not Yet Disclosed

As we reported back in December, a Sponsored Stories lawsuit was allowed to proceed against the social media giant as Facebook failed to have it thrown out.  Today, the lawsuit was settled "in principle"at a federal court in San Jose, CA. Originally five Facebook members sued Facebook with claims that their privacy was infringed upon as their likeness was used in ads without their permission or ability to opt-out.  Sponsored stories match users who have liked or commented on a page/post with ads for Facebook pages. More information on the specific ads can be found in the video below: [...]

Report: Facebook Sued For $15 Billion Over Improper User Tracking

facebook-logo-sm Today, on the day of Facebook's IPO, Bloomberg reports that Facebook (FB) is being sued for $15 billion for improper user tracking. The suit claims that Facebook invaded privacy by tracking users, logged in or out of Facebook. The lawsuit was filed in Federal Court in California and combines 21 cases from across the country according to Stewards Law US LLP, a firm leading the claim. The main basis of the tracking claims is that Facebook continued to track users, even after they had signed out of their accounts. The total of $15 billion comes from the U.S. Wiretap Act and the lawsuit sta [...]

Facebook, Washington Settle Suits With Alleged ‘Likejacker’

facebook-logo-square Adscend Media, the company accused earlier this year of running "likejacking" campaigns on Facebook, has settled separate lawsuits with both Facebook and the state of Washington. CNET reports that the company agreed on Monday to settlement terms with Washington Attorney General Rob McKenna. In that settlement, Adscend Media agreed to stop spamming Facebook users and to pay $100,000 in attorneys fees -- but they did not admit liability as part of the consent decree. McKenna issued a statement about the settlement: Today's settlement puts a stop to Adscend’s 'likejacking' and other mi [...]

Consumers Union Aggressively Challenges Facebook On Privacy

The Consumers Union, the entity behind Consumer Reports, is launching an aggressive campaign for a national privacy law that would offer more transparency and control to online users in connection with data mining, online ad targeting and tracking. In particular, Consumers Union is taking aim at Facebook as the exemplar of practices that it believes should be made more transparent to consumers and/or reined in. The advocacy group took out a full-page ad (.pdf and above) critical of Facebook in the print version of Politico according to AdAge. AdAge remarked that "While the ad copy seems [...]

Facebook To Buy 650 AOL Patents From Microsoft

facebook-logo-sm Just two weeks after Microsoft bought more than 925 patents from AOL, the company is turning around and selling about 650 of them to Facebook. The deal also allows Facebook to license the other AOL patents that it's not buying from Microsoft. According to today's announcement, the sale will cost Facebook about $550 million -- close to half of what Microsoft originally spent on the AOL patents. Microsoft says the sale is motivated by financial reasons. "Today’s agreement with Facebook enables us to recoup over half of our costs while achieving our goals from the AOL auction," says Micr [...]

Facebook Offers Up More Data To Download, Includes IP Address Data

On the heels of the recent Facebook employee/employer scandal Facebook is beefing up the data included within their download feature.  The most important addition? IP addresses.  Users will now be able to download a copy of all IP address activity that is occurring on the account.  Additional information that can now be downloaded are previous names and friend requests. The Facebook privacy page was updated today with more details on the change: "Starting today, you will be able to download an expanded archive of your Facebook account history. First introduced in 2010, Download Your I [...]

Debunking Senator Al Franken On Google, The Internet & Privacy

al-franken-featured I liked Al Franken as a comedian. I liked the idea of him becoming a US Senator. I definitely like the idea that he wants to defend Americans from potential privacy problems. But I don't like that he sounds like an uneducated senator of old. Case in point: his recent speech to the American Bar Association attacking Google and raising worries about internet privacy. Let's do some debunking. Franken gave a speech last night to the American Bar Association's anti-trust section, The Verge reports. The also have a copy of his speech here. I'll go through the key parts pertaining to internet priv [...]

Yahoo Sues Facebook For Patent Infringement, How Much Will Facebook Wind Up Paying?

facebook-yahoo-featured As is being widely reported, Yahoo filed a patent lawsuit against Facebook today in US Federal Court in the Northern District of California. At the center of the litigation are a wide range of claims that cover advertising, the news feed, messaging, social networking and privacy, among others. Here's a key paragraph from the complaint: It reads, "For much of the technology upon which Facebook is based, Yahoo got there first . . ." No dollar amount is specified in the damages portion of the complaint. Presumably Yahoo thinks this IP is worth hundreds of millions if not billions of dol [...]

Yahoo Joins Patent Wars, Says Facebook Is Infringing IP

You have to wonder whether Yahoo's patent-saber rattling is a sincere effort to enforce its intellectual property or an admission about Yahoo's competitive position relative to Facebook. After several years of turmoil, internal politics and a loss of talent the company is struggling to regain its place in the pantheon of top-tier internet companies. Reuters and the NY Times reported yesterday that Yahoo is now asking Facebook for licensing fees related to "10 or 20 patents." The particular patents aren't identified; however Yahoo owns several thousand, covering things like content and adver [...]

Facebook Joins Washington AG In Lawsuits Targeting “Likejacking” Scam

facebook-like-logos Washington state and Facebook have double-teamed on separate lawsuits against Adscend Media, a company that allegedly runs "likejacking" campaigns to collect money and/or personal information from Facebook users. As GeekWire reports, the practice was allegedly adding up to $1.2 million per month to Adscend's coffers. Likejacking, or "clickjacking" as the official release from Washington Attorney General Rob McKenna calls it, is described as follows: Scammers design Facebook Pages to look like they will offer visitors an opportunity to view salacious or provocative content. They condi [...]

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