back to article Facebook sued for mis-sending dirty texts

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 …


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  1. Alan Donaly

    hmm maybe

    I wouldn't be so quick to test how much their immunity is worth I'm not saying their wrong but being arrogant to a court in this or pretty much any country I have ever heard of can get you made an exception to legal precedent (or get laws changed). I would hate to see this immunity go away because facebook sent dirty texts I have also heard of stranger things happening.

  2. Robert Laverick

    What magic is she expecting here?

    How can facebook possibly be expected to know when a mobile phone number changes owner? Maybe they can have a blacklist that you can add your phone to by replying to the message with STOP as many SMS text services do, and maybe they already do for all I know. But demanding that they shouldn't be allowed to forward messages to you is foolish at best, it'd be like saying that AT&T don't have permission to forward SMS messages from thier users and suing them when someone sends me one by mistake. To be honest I've never understood what reasoning about charging people for incoming messages and calls is all about, I guess it's just a way of making profitability simple.

    Alan: What is arrogant about using a law in a legitimate way to shield yourself from unreasonable lawsuits?

  3. Anonymous Coward

    why are they not...

    ...Being sued for being flagrant spammers? I get bombarded with fake 'friend requests' which are deceptive, unreplyable, and not tagged as ads. Even if they weren't it should get them booted from their isp (hah, right) but they're actually violating the watered down can-spam law six ways from sunday anyway.

    I guess that only applies if you're unknown. Be popular and spam all you want!

    If ever there was a use for the storm worm botnet, this is it: it's the only way this crap will stop, as the gov't won't prosecute, isps like the money, and media are afraid to mention it.

    What say you, russian brethren? Join the fight and I'll leave a dozen unsecured win98 laptops plugged in behind the motel 6.

  4. Tim Spence
    Thumb Down

    Why the US doesn't rule the world

    "Yes, Abrams is annoyed that's she's had to pay when such messages hit her phone."

    See, I've always thought the US system is immensely backward - why get charged when someone texts or calls you? Surely better to charge the person actually doing the phoning, or sending the text, seeing as they're the ones who want to make the connection. I'm not alone in this am I?

  5. Paul Talbot
    Dead Vulture


    How exactly can Facebook know if a person changes their number? I also noticed that nothing's mentioned about this woman contacting Facebook and asking them to stop before suing. i wouldn't be surprised if she didn't bother...

    Oh, and to David Wiernicki above - if you're getting a lot of fake friend requests, you have a problem. I've never had a single one!

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Paul Talbot

    Is there a "handshake" style confirmation dialogue when its first set up?

    If they set up a Challenge/Response system that fires every 90 days or so (or something that is more frequent than the time it takes the phone companies to recycle numbers) and if the response isn't entered back into your facebook account it removes the number then that would get rid of most of the problem

    Its not rocket science.

  7. Jeremy


    Says it all really, doesn't it? Why work/stress/do-worthwhile-stuff for a living when you can find an obscure reason to sue someone else and get yourself made for life.

  8. Quinnum
    Thumb Down

    Re: Huh?

    I'd bet she didn't bother either. Of course why would she when it's much easier to file a lawsuit and get some of that free money like the parasite she is.

  9. David Mantripp

    Not necessarily rocket science

    Dunno about the US, but in some regions SMS service providers include a number lookup service which can go some way towards designing a solution to this.

    But designing something like that gets dangerously close to hard work...

  10. Jamie Anderson

    @What magic is she expecting here?

    It appears that she is attempting to cast Increase Checking Account Balance XII after first decimating the enemie's resists with Think About The Children VIII.

  11. Joey Y
    IT Angle

    ListServ does it...

    For many of the lists I am on, I receive a list confirmation email between every few months to a couple of years.

    Why not do that? Facebook could send an additional message every couple of months, requesting that you either reply with a text message or go to facebook to confirm.

    Also, I agree that the carriers in the US are stupid in charging for incoming messages. If I and a few friends want to irritate someone, we could just send lots of texts to him. At up to ten cents per message, 5 people sending 20 messages to him a month it gets expensive. Throw in some emails via email-to-text gateway, and it gets expensive faster.

    Plus, most carriers will not let you disable text messages. The best you can do is get a phone that predates modern text technology. (In other words, get your father's old cell phone when he decides that the battery does not last long enough any more...)

  12. Grant
    Paris Hilton

    re:Why the US doesn't rule the world

    Well in Japan caller pays for calls to mobiles but reciever for emails (since there is no way to charge sender.) All phones have an email address but it is assigned by the user and is not your phone number. It used to be your phone number but there was too much spam, including companines send emails to every 8 digit number for for a provider. There is SMS by phone number that only works from a phone on the same provider.

    Even with this companies still manage to spam. If you call someone and they don't answer you are not charged. If you hangup after one ring or less it is very unlikely you will get answer (espcially at 3:00 A.M.), but the reciever will see a phone number on the phone in the morning and may call back at which point you voice spam them. Very irratting since I get the occaisional real calls at 3:00 AM I leave my phone on and near the bed (futon actualy).

    The phone companies finally did something (possibly involving the police or maybe just some guys with baseball bats or swords) and this does not seem to happen anymore.

    Lastly why has no one mentioned people who get Paris Hilton's old number?

  13. Ross Fleming

    RE: Why the US doesn't rule the world

    AFAIK the same system exists in the UK where you can be charged for receiving text messages - it was fairly high in the media when the ringtone subscription services were making a fortune out of it.

    No idea how or why it works though

  14. Richard Neill

    Blame the carriers

    The obvious answer is that numbers should not be recyled. Surely, once a person has closed their phone contract, it wouldn't be so hard to blacklist the number for a year, rather than handing it on straight away to someone else. That would just be plain decent customer service!

  15. Paul

    re:Why the US doesn't rule the world

    Perhaps this should be 'why the US does rule the world' - or possibly 'why US business rules the world whilst consumers get shafted' - if you can charge people for events that are out of their control then you're on to an unstoppable moneyspinner aren't you?

    The main reason the networks never tried this one on in the UK is that it would never wash with British consumers, thankfully. But we do get shafted in the same way for international roaming.

  16. Stephen Stagg

    @David Wiernicki

    I suggest that you work out who is e-stalking you and get a court-oder put on then before you dissolve into a quivering pile of indignation.

  17. Paul

    @Ross Fleming

    The difference is that if you want a premium text service in the UK you have to send a text first to either request it or set up a subscription - and with subscription services they also have to provide means for immediate unsubscription by text. Sending people random texts that they had to pay for would cause outrage here.

    Also, rules on re-using phone numbers are more strict in the UK, particularly for ex-directory numbers - any text subscriptions would automatically be cancelled and a certain grace period has to pass.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    @Stephen Stagg

    Steve, you seem to be under the misapprehension that I actually know any of the people who 'added me as a friend', including Mr. Matty Dewitt, who wrote:

    "I've added you as a friend on Facebook...

    I've requested to add you as a friend on Facebook. You can use Facebook to see the profiles of the people around you, share photos, and connect with friends. Now everyone can join Facebook, even if you couldn't before.



    P.S. Here's the link:"

    Then, there's some nice fine print saying, "This email contains promotional material from Facebook..." ...right. And of course, legit requests would contain that, too, right? And oddly, I am also unfamiliar with Mehmet Kara and Adam Johansson, both of whom 'requested' me with the same option to "not receive further commercial mailings" (who was the last sucker to fall for that one?). Not "further friend request". Commercial mailings.

    Commercial Messages. Unsolicited Commercial Messages. Sound familiar?

    Even if we presume that the "promotional material" message keeps them from running afoul of Can Spam (which would also require that Messrs. Dewitt, Kara, and Johansson are real and decided to allow Facebook to spam on their behalf) it doesn't make it any less spam. (Yes, I checked - the IPs match and it's not a phish.)

    Am I indignant? Yes, though I don't appear to be quivering or piled anywhere. But being indignant is a start - better than being an apologist for a spammer just because they're so well-known you can't imagine they'd do it. Which, ironically, was precisely my point.

    One final thought: While a court-oder would be quite funny, I'm not sure it would have the desired effect. If somebody's talking me, it already stinks.

  19. evilbobthebob

    But think of the children!

    I say no more...

  20. Craig Edwards

    @ Blame the carriers

    I have been receiving unsolicited text messages ever since i changed my number. It seems i am receiving someone elses spam. I enquired at the vodafone shop, and they told me there is a system in place to blacklist numbers and take them out of rotation for i think it was 6 months between users. Even though this happens, certain disreputable spammers will still continue sending texts to failed targets, which explains why most of the texts i get are from international sources advertising very dodgy websites. I was told there is nothing the phone company can do about these and they do not respond to 'STOP', so i may just get them to give me a new number. Surely this is a viable solution too?

  21. Matt Bryant Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    re:Why the US doesn't rule the world

    In the UK, you first have to take out a subscription to be charged for unsolicited texts, which is how most idiots get stung when they don't read the fine print in the ringtone download agreements and don't realise they are usually committing to taking a number of downloads over the period of the agreement, and that the agreement renews by default. This means the ringtone download provider can keep taking small amounts monthly and you never notice unless you really track your statements. Putting all that in an agreement in the EU is still legal as there is still no legal requirement to make such agreements "opt-in" rather than "opt-out".

    However, in the UK you cannot be charged for a service you did not ask for - this is the basis of business law. I cannot, for example, just send you a document and then bill you by saying I supplied a consulting service (the doucment), I first have to prove you asked for that document and therefore owe me for it. Same goes for SMS - unless you agree to it, they cannot bill you. I'm amazed they can do it in the US.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @David Wiernicki

    Have you actually checked that the email is coming from Facebook? Just because it says it's from them, it doesn't mean it is, and it unlikely to be.

  23. Adam White

    An opt-out feature would be nice

    Seems like the fair thing to do. I wonder if the plaintiff contacted Facebook about this before launching her suit?

  24. Arif Rashid

    Standards.... the lack thereof

    Ha Ha Ha... Thats what you get for not adopting the GSM standard! Crap phones, even worse service, not being able to roam AND having to pay to receive calls and texts in your own country! now that is progress....

  25. Anonymous Coward

    Facebook not at fault? Think again.

    So it's the user's responsibility to keep phone numbers up-to-date, huh?

    Consider this

    ''The funniest thing about such groups is that you can't actually leave Facebook. Ever. The closest you can get to the escape hatch is a temporary deactivation. As Zuckerberg whispers in your ear as you grab the handle: "Even after you deactivate, your friends can still invite you to events, tag you in photos, or ask you to join groups."''

    Chris Williams,

    So the user who left Facebook and tried to unsubscribe is now expected to resubscribe in order to update their records every time they change phone number or email address, or move flat?

    Facebook definitely have a case to answer as they are mishandling personal data in a way that causes financial and practical problems for third parties.

    While I don't see any reason for this woman to get her millions, I hope this case causes Facebook's data retention and data use policies to get firmly rewritten, along with the software that implements them.


  26. Don S.


    How can something be Obscure AND Graphic at the same time?

  27. Martin Benson

    RE:How can something be Obscure AND Graphic at the same time?

    Have you never seen any pictures by Jackson Pollock?

    But I agree, they wouldn't translate well to SMS...

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