Patriot woman wins suit against Facebook


SAN JOSE, California (AP) – Pressured by a lawsuit filed by a Patriot, Indiana, woman, Internet social network Facebook Inc. will adopt new measures to prevent its 58 million members from sending text messages to recycled cell phone numbers.

The settlement was announced Tuesday by attorneys for the Patriot woman, who claimed Palo Alto-based Facebook had been profiting from text messages sent by its members after the intended recipients had given up the phone numbers.

The lawsuit filed by Lindsey Abrams of Patriot, about 40 miles east of Madison, said she received text messages with explicit comments and other upsetting content – and had to pay 10 cents each time. Facebook received a share of the fee, according to the complaint.

According to the complaint, which Lindsey Abrams’ lawyers had hoped would be certified as a class action, Lindsey Abrams started getting the unsolicited messages shortly after she got a new mobile number from Verizon Communications Inc. in November 2006.

Her suit alleged thousands of other unauthorized text messages had been sent nationwide to other recycled phone numbers, including some used by young children.

Facebook stipulated to the agreement in court papers filed December 14th in San Jose federal court. A Facebook spokeswoman declined to comment Tuesday.

The two-month-old case highlighted the problems that can arise as Web sites extend their services to mobile handsets with phone numbers that have been reassigned after another customer’s service ended.

Facebook’s rapid growth has greatly increased the chances of unauthorized messages originating from its network. Nearly 40 million people have joined Facebook in the past eight months.

Without admitting any wrongdoing, Facebook agreed to make it easier for recipients of text messages to block future messages originating from the social network.

Facebook also will work more closely with mobile phone carriers to monitor the lists of recycled numbers and reduce the frequency of unwanted text messages.

Facebook also agreed to pay the legal fees of Lindsey Abrams’ attorneys, who work for KamberEdelson LLP in Chicago. The amount will be determined after court hearings next year.