Nov.-Dec. 2011 Quick Links, Part 3

By Eric Goldman

Marketing and Advertising

* Facebook is putting Sponsored Stories in user newsfeeds. Naturally, they will make the ad label almost invisible. Yet another reason to hate Facebook, and what a desperate act of financial overreaching to goose their IPO. FWIW, I absolutely hate that Twitter does the same thing. It’s terribly marked as an ad, and it takes me more time than it should to figure out why it’s appearing in my stream. Boo for Twitter, and boo for Facebook.

* Then again, not all Twitter ads are objectionable. The most popular tweet of 2011? An ad from Wendy’s.

* Interesting NAD decision involving Coastal Contacts’ offer of “free” glasses in exchange for Facebook likes. Compare the subsequent ruling in Fraley v. Facebook.

* Top 10 PR Blunders of 2011.

* FTC does another bust of health marketers who allegedly used affiliates to create fake news sites. Prior blog post.

* Rebecca reports on a lawsuit over marketing that chickens were “raised humanely.” Note to meat eaters: there’s no such thing as mass-raising of animals “humanely” for our food consumption. Invariably, meat-eaters who actually take the effort to understand the process of manufacturing meat decide to reduce their meat consumption.

* NYT on caller ID spoofing. The FTC just announced another bust on this front.

* AdAge: FDA’s Social-Media ‘Guidelines’ Befuddle Big Pharma.

* Yahoo Inc. v. XYZ Companies, 2011 WL 6072263 (S.D.N.Y. Dec 5, 2011). Yahoo gets a huge and uncollectable default judgment of $610M under CAN-SPAM against Nigerian spammers.

* Adware déjà vu: Facebook bitches about adware. Prior blog post.

* A table manufacturer tinkers with his AdWords account and discovers a correlation between AdWords and clicks on his organic links (1, 2). Prior blog post.

* Pom loses a jury trial against Ocean Spray over false advertising.

* Washington Post: An inside look at the world of TV news payola/“plugola.”

* Ad Naseum on reverse product placement, i.e., manufacturing virtual brands created for TVs and movies.

* NYT: In China, car brands have very different meanings to consumers than they do in the US (except for BMW, where the brand attributes are surprisingly the same).

* Cracked: 5 Black Friday Myths The Media Wants You to Believe.


* In re Facebook Privacy Litigation, 2011 WL 6176208 (N.D. Cal. Nov. 22, 2011). Prior blog post. Judge Ware dismisses the Facebook/Zynga referrer ID case with prejudice. Wendy Davis’ coverage. It appears the plaintiffs have appealed (sub nom Graf v. Zynga) to the Ninth Circuit.

* Facebook will make 45 privacy-related changes—almost none of them “important”—to appease the Irish Data Protection bureaucrats.

* Mark Zuckerberg has extensive experience apologizing to Facebook users for Facebook’s privacy transgressions.

* USA Today on how Facebook tracks user activity at websites other than its own.

* Cohen v. Facebook appealed to the Ninth Circuit. I’m not sure how the Fraley v. Facebook ruling affects this. Prior blog post.

* Interesting visualization of Facebook’s creeping degradation of privacy for user-provided info.

* In the Matter of ScanScout, Inc., FTC File No. 1023185:

According to the FTC complaint, from at least April 2007 to December 2010, ScanScout’s website privacy policy discussed how it used cookies to track users’ behavior. The privacy policy stated, “You can opt out of receiving a cookie by changing your browser settings to prevent the receipt of cookies.” However, changing browser settings did not remove or block the Flash cookies used by ScanScout, the FTC charged. The claims by ScanScout were deceptive and violated the FTC Act, the complaint alleged.

* FTC bust of Skid-e-Kids for COPPA violations.

* Another cookie litigation settlement where the lawyers get almost all of the settlement value. PaidContent and MediaPost coverage.

* Weber v. Google, over Google toolbar snooping, was quietly dropped.

* Incorp Services, Inc. v. Does 1-10, 2011 WL 5444789 (N.D. Cal. Nov. 9, 2011). The court orders unmasking of alleged click fraudders:

By tracking the clicks over the course of several weeks and narrowing a substantial portion of the activity to only two IP addresses—both owned by the same ISP—Incorp has provided sufficient information to indicate that the responsible parties are “real person(s)” who may be sued in federal court. Incorp also has demonstrated that it took reasonable steps to identify Defendants. Because information pertaining to the assignee of an IP address is maintained by the third-party ISP, the only way in which Incorp is able to identify definitively the parties associated with the suspect IP addresses is by subpoena to the ISP.

* In re Application of the USA for an Order Pursuant to 2703(d), 1:11-dm-00003-TCB –LO (E.D. Va. Nov. 10, 2011). No Fourth Amendment privacy protection for IP addresses.

* NYT provides yet another update on some European regulators’ efforts to kill Silicon Valley.

* Peter Fleischer: Harsher data protection sanctions are coming.


* Stebbins v. Texas, 2011 WL 6130403 (N.D. Tex. October 24, 2011). Another court calls David Stebbins’ attempt to manufacture an arbitration award “frivolous,” saying “his factual assertions that the alleged contract was formed when Plaintiff sent an e-mail to Defendant with a blog link and a dollar bill describe fantastic or delusional scenarios that are clearly irrational and incredible.” Prior blog coverage (1, 2).

* Garon v. eBay, Inc., 2011 WL 6329089 (N.D.Cal. Nov. 30, 2011). No antitrust claims for vendors who eBay terminated for low ratings. I think eBay should have been able to use 47 USC 230(c)(2) (not discussed by the judge).

* Fadal Machining Centers, LLC v. Compumachine, Inc., 2011 WL 6254979 (9th Cir. Dec.15, 2011). In a B2B context, enforcing an arbitration clause posted to the web that was incorporated by reference in the vendor’s invoices.

* Spam Arrest v. Marketingesquire complaint: Spam Arrest sues an email marketer for violating its TOS by sending “spam.”

* Wofford v. Apple Inc. (S.D. Cal. Nov. 9, 2011). Free software update to iPhone software did not constitute a “tangible good or service” for California CLRA purposes.

* How plaintiff firms are adapting to Concepcion.

* WSJ: Are We All Online Criminals?