Facebook sued for mis-sending dirty texts

'It's the new Google'


Facebook has been sued for bombarding the wrong people with intermittently-X-rated mobile text messages.

Earlier this week, an Indiana mommy named Lindsey Abrams filed a federal class action suit against the Microsoft-propped social networking site. She's claiming that it sends thousands of unauthorized text messages to innocent bystanders across the country - and that many of these messages contain "adult content".

You see, Web 2.0 addicts can use Facebook to instantly send texts to all their virtual-doo-doo-loving buddies. But sometimes users change their phone numbers without notifying the service, and Facebook sends the texts to the wrong place.

Abrams questions whether Facebook is doing this on purpose. "Through either intentional design or gross negligence, Facebook has a flaw: The systems sends text messages to the cell phone numbers entered by a particular member, without regard to whether the member actually still uses that cell number," the suit reads.

"Because cell phone numbers are reassigned to new users after the previous user closes her or her account, Facebook's flaw has resulted in the transmission of thousands of unauthorized text messages to the wireless phones of consumers across the country."

Obscure and graphic

That "her or her" bit could mean that Abrams is particularly annoyed with the site's female users. Or it could be a typo.

Yes, Abrams is annoyed that's she's had to pay when such messages hit her phone. But that's not all. She says the messages are "often obscure and graphic" and that they can mess with your mind. "These messages can come during all times of the day or night and, because the senders are hard to identify, can be seen as intimidating or unsettling."

She's also worried about all those American children. "The issue is all the more pronounced because children are among those who receive phone numbers previously associated with Facebook members," the suit continues. "As such, adults seeking sexual encounters or other types of adult activities end up inadvertently text messaging young children."

The suit insists that Facebook turn over $5m and put the kibosh on unauthorized texts. But according to Santa Clara University law professor and tech law blogger Eric Goldman, it isn't likely to stand-up. The court will surely dismiss the complaint, he says, with a wave of the US Communications Decency Act.

"[The act] states that websites are not liable for what their users say or do," he told the The Reg. "User provide the telephone numbers. Users provide the messages being sent. And Facebook just forwards them. It may be annoying to get a message that isn't directed to you, but Facebook isn't to blame - just you can't blame the telephone company when someone makes a crank call."

But Goldman completely understands why The Reg is interested in covering this suit. "People love writing about Facebook suits," he said. "It's the new Google." ®

Narrower topics


Other stories you might like

  • AMD claims its GPUs beat Nvidia on performance per dollar
    * Terms, conditions, hardware specs and software may vary – a lot

    As a slowdown in PC sales brings down prices for graphics cards, AMD is hoping to win over the market's remaining buyers with a bold, new claim that its latest Radeon cards provide better performance for the dollar than Nvidia's most recent GeForce cards.

    In an image tweeted Monday by AMD's top gaming executive, the chip designer claims its lineup of Radeon RX 6000 cards provide better performance per dollar than competing ones from Nvidia, with all but two of the ten cards listed offering advantages in the double-digit percentages. AMD also claims to provide better performance for the power required by each card in all but two of the cards.

    Continue reading
  • Google opens the pod doors on Bay View campus
    A futuristic design won't make people want to come back – just ask Apple

    After nearly a decade of planning and five years of construction, Google is cutting the ribbon on its Bay View campus, the first that Google itself designed.

    The Bay View campus in Mountain View – slated to open this week – consists of two office buildings (one of which, Charleston East, is still under construction), 20 acres of open space, a 1,000-person event center and 240 short-term accommodations for Google employees. The search giant said the buildings at Bay View total 1.1 million square feet. For reference, that's less than half the size of Apple's spaceship. 

    The roofs on the two main buildings, which look like pavilions roofed in sails, were designed that way for a purpose: They're a network of 90,000 scale-like solar panels nicknamed "dragonscales" for their layout and shimmer. By scaling the tiles, Google said the design minimises damage from wind, rain and snow, and the sloped pavilion-like roof improves solar capture by adding additional curves in the roof. 

    Continue reading
  • Pentester pops open Tesla Model 3 using low-cost Bluetooth module
    Anything that uses proximity-based BLE is vulnerable, claim researchers

    Tesla Model 3 and Y owners, beware: the passive entry feature on your vehicle could potentially be fooled by a new form of relay attack.

    Discovered and tested by researchers at NCC Group, the attack allows anyone with a tool similar to NCC's to relay the Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) signal from a smartphone that has been paired with a Tesla back to the vehicle. Far from simply unlocking the door, the hack lets the attacker start the car and drive away too.

    In its testing, NCC Group said it was able to perform a relay attack that allowed researchers to open a Tesla Model 3 from a home in which the vehicle's paired device was located (on the other side of the house), approximately 25 meters away.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022