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Thumbs-up gets a thumbs-down from some Facebook users

Maybe privacy is overrated. Maybe asking someone if you can use their personal opinions as endorsements is just a common courtesy that’s outdated in this digital and technological world that we now live in.
And maybe Republican Todd Akin will be the keynote speaker at the next National Organization for Women’s conference too. Right after Akin congratulates Joe Biden on shooing himself and President Obama right back into the White House with his winning speech at a recent Virginia rally.
By the way, the two extra topics covered in this article are offered at no extra charge, similar to the way Facebook is offering our “likes” as free recommendations to advertisers in their Sponsored Stories section. Oh, and not only the likes, but our names and photos too.
But five people in California cried foul when they filed a class-action lawsuit in May protesting the practice. According to a story published recently in the Los Angeles Times, the suit alleges that the advertising violates California law because it publicizes products or services that users “like” without paying those users or giving them a way to opt out.
One could suppose that the powers-that-be at Facebook figured that if you gave something a thumbs-up it meant that you liked/endorsed the product. And, of course, that is invariably the case when you signify that “digit”-al action (pardon the pun), but does it also mean that they can visibly use that action to increase their advertisers, which in turn increases their revenue, without your permission?
Apparently, the U.S. District Judge in the case didn’t think so. The article stated that he rejected Facebook Inc.’s proposed legal settlement. His concerns had to do with the fact that Facebook wasn’t offering any monetary resolutions to the opponents of the practice.
Imagine that. What they are offering, according to the story, is to give users more control over whether or not they want to become unpaid endorsers in ads aimed at their Facebook friends, and $10 million in legal fees and $10 million to nonprofit organizations that specialize in privacy, including the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which is an international nonprofit digital rights advocacy and legal organization.
That’s all well and good, but should Facebook be let off the hook that easily? Of course, some might argue $20 million wouldn’t be considered all that “easily.” But isn’t that one of the reasons why the internet bothers everyone so much, especially journalists and the like; the fact that unpaid actions out there are infringing on people’s rights and livelihoods?
Then there is the privacy issue. For a company as big as Facebook to just take it upon themselves to use our likenesses and comments without asking just doesn’t sit right. Especially since without us, their users, they wouldn’t have their gazillions of dollars.
I think it’s time for Facebook users to create their own symbol for chastising the giant when they foul up.
Maybe something like: @#%&=$

Angela Rogalski is a print journalism senior who lives in Abbeville. Follow her on Twitter @abbeangel.