Facebook Sued for Stifling Competition, Click Fraud

Jul 11, 2009

facebook2It’s a saga we’re all familiar with by now: create a pretty awesome web service, start a trend, become a media sweetheart, make lots of money (VC or acquisition), get slapped with a lawsuit. Or two. Or fifty billion. Facebook added two more lawsuits to its heap recently: a countersuit from Power.com and a click fraud proceeding.

Facebook filed suit against Power.com in December. Facebook claimed the one-stop social-media aggregator was infringing upon their copyright, violating their TOS and scraping proprietary data. At the time, we weren’t sure whether “proprietary data” included user information.

Power.com finally decided not to take this sitting down. TechCrunch reports that Power.com has now filed a countersuit, claiming Facebook is “unlawfully withholding the data that users own (as stated in Facebook’s own ToS), and is stifling competition by refusing to allow third party services like Power.com to access the data, among other things.”

Facebook also faces legal action from RootZoo, an erstwhile advertiser. After analytics from their Nov 2007-June 2008 campaign varied greatly from Facebook’s reported data, RootZoo requested Facebook’s logs and a refund. Facebook said no to both.

RootZoo’s complaint uses 2 June 2008 as an example of the discrepancies between the two. While Facebook reported 804 clicks on their ads, RootZoo’s analytics programs show 300 clicks from the social networking giant.

While there have been rumblings about Facebook click fraud for some time, this is the first suit in the matter.

What do you think? Does Facebook have anything to worry about from these legal claims against it? Is there anyway to avoid getting slapped with lawsuits once people see you’re making some money?

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