Judge Prunes Advertisers’ Claims Against Facebook

     (CN) – A federal judge in San Jose, Calif., trimmed parts of a class action accusing Facebook of overcharging advertisers for fraudulent or bogus clicks.

     U.S. District Judge Jeremy Fogel granted Facebook’s motion to dismiss claims for breach of contract based on click fraud and for unfair competition under California law.
     Lead plaintiffs RootZoo, Steven Price and Matthew Smith advertised on the social networking site on a “cost-per-click” basis, meaning their fees were based on how many people clicked their ads.
     They claimed Facebook improperly billed them for failed clicks, due to “a glitch in Facebook’s website,” and for nonexistent clicks. Facebook also charged for “unintentional, multiple clicks from a Facebook user in rapid succession,” according to advertisers, and for click fraud — when someone tries to deplete an advertiser’s budget with invalid clicks.
     “Plaintiffs do not allege that Defendant has engaged in any knowing or reckless misrepresentation or concealment of the truth,” Fogel said of the click fraud claim. “Instead, they claim that Defendant has breached the contract by charging for ‘fraud’ committed by third parties” (emphasis in original).
     He added that Facebook’s disclaimers “state unambiguously that Defendant will not be liable for ‘click fraud.'”
     He also tossed the advertisers’ unfair competition claims as “insufficiently specific.”
     “The motion to dismiss is granted with respect to Plaintiffs’ breach of contract claim based upon click fraud, claims under the unfair prong of the UCL (California’s unfair competition law) based upon click fraud, and claims under the unlawful and fraudulent prongs of the UCL,” Fogel wrote. “The motion otherwise will be denied.”
     He gave the plaintiffs 30 days to file an amended complaint.

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