A B.C. woman who is suing Facebook for using her photo in an advertisement hopes a U.S. settlement for the same thing will boost her case.
Last month, a U.S. judge approved a $20-million settlement against the social media giant.
Debbie Douez is trying to launch a class-action suit over claims Facebook uses ordinary people to unwittingly endorse products.
Greg McMullen, a lawyer with Branch MacMaster LLP, says there were about 3.5 million Facebook users in B.C. as of March 10, 2013. Facebook's records indicate that between Sept. 9, 2012 and March 9, 2013 approximately 1.8 million B.C. users appeared in sponsored stories.
"It quite amazing really to think that that many people have been turned into spokespeople," he said.
Sponsored stories are when a user "likes" a brand or a product, and that company then pays Facebook to place the endorsement on the pages or news feeds of the user’s friends.
"It doesn't have to be you clicking on what seems to be an advertisement," McMullen said.
"It could be you clicking that you are attending a particular event, it could be that you are clicking like to indicate your political preferences or to receive updates or to get a free promotion - so any of those actions could actually be repurposed into a sponsored story."
He says that means many people don't know they're in sponsored stories.
"We would like Facebook to get the proper consent before using people in advertising, essentially," McMullen said.
In affidavits filed in B.C. Supreme Court, Facebook says businesses and political parties have paid for sponsored stories in B.C.
The hearing for class-action certification is set for November.