On behalf of Noah Duguid, Lemberg Law filed a class action lawsuit against Facebook, Inc., alleging that the social media behemoth violated the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) by sending unwanted text messages to consumers’ cell phones using an automated telephone dialing system. According to consumer attorney Sergei Lemberg, “Facebook operates a sloppy system, and in doing so shows complete disregard for the privacy of consumers. We’re pleased to be able to help Mr. Duguid get the justice he deserves.”
The case, Duguid vs. Facebook (U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York) alleges that, beginning in January 2014, Facebook repeatedly sent text messages to Mr. Duguid. The messages were variations of, “Your Facebook account was accessed from an unknown browser at 2:16 p.m. Log in for more info.”
In April, Mr. Duguid sent Facebook a detailed email complaining about the spam texts and asking the company to stop sending them. Facebook sent a canned response, which told him to long onto Facebook to report problematic content. He wrote back, reiterating the spam text problem and noting, “A human needs to read this email and take action.” According to Lemberg, “All Mr. Duguid received was the same automated reply.”
Bloggers have noted that people can text “off” in response to Facebook’s messages in order to get them to stop. In October, Mr. Duguid tried that, and got a text message back that said, “Facebook texts are now off. Reply on to turn them back on.”
Facebook’s automated system of sending text messages is at the heart of the class action complaint. According to Lemberg, “The Federal Communications Commission has made it clear text messages fall under the TCPA, and the TCPA prohibits companies using automated telephone dialing systems to contact cell phones unless they have the consumer’s express written consent. In Mr. Duguid’s case – and, we suspect, in the case of thousands of other consumers – Facebook didn’t have his written consent.”
The class action lawsuit seeks to represent two groups of consumers. The first class consists of those who didn’t provide Facebook with their cell phone number and who received text messages from Facebook within the past four years. The second class consists of those how notified Facebook that they no longer wanted to receive text messages, and received a confirmation from Facebook, but still received a text message from the company.
Spam text messages are all-too-common. In April 2012, the Pew Research Center found that 69% of texters reported receiving unwanted spam text messages, while 25% reported receiving spam texts weekly.
Lemberg said the stakes are too high not to take action. “Facebook’s automated systems are powerful and, when used improperly, are capable of extreme invasions into the privacy of American consumers,” he said.