Supreme Court of Canada to hear Facebook 'sponsored stories' case
A Facebook employee uses a mouse at the company's headquarters in Menlo Park, Calif. (AP / Paul Sakuma)
The Canadian Press
Published Thursday, March 10, 2016 11:03AM EST
Last Updated Thursday, March 10, 2016 7:36PM EST
OTTAWA -- The Supreme Court of Canada has agreed to decide whether a Vancouver woman who unwittingly became a brand ambassador on Facebook can fight her case in British Columbia.
The high court ruled on Thursday it will hear an appeal by Deborah Douez, who has sought to file a class-action lawsuit against the social media giant over a now-defunct advertising format.
Douez wants compensation for being featured in Facebook's "sponsored stories," which allegedly used her name and profile photo in ads endorsing a company for which she had pressed the "Like" button.
The ads were generated for companies that purchased the sponsored stories format, and were sometimes displayed on her friends' newsfeeds.
"She thought that was wrong," said her lawyer, Christopher Rhone. "She's also offended by the fact this occurred to so many people."
Ultimately, the class-action lawsuit intends to seek damages based on a claim that the format violated B.C.'s Privacy Act.
But the appeal that the Supreme Court has agreed to hear will instead focus on the more narrow issue of jurisdiction, with the high court looking at whether the lawsuit can proceed in B.C. or if it must be filed in California, where Facebook's head office is located.
Facebook declined comment.
It cut the format about two years ago.
Rhone said a favourable decision for Douez would send the case back to B.C.'s Supreme Court for a trial on the merits of the case, and only then would Douez's claims for compensation be pursued.
But he contends the issue of what court can hear the case is important because it addresses whether a company can "escape" legislation intended to protect consumers.
The B.C. Supreme Court approved the suit, but the provincial Court of Appeal stayed the case.
As usual, the Supreme Court of Canada gave no reasons for agreeing to hear the appeal.