Germany's highest court has ruled Facebook's "Friend Finder" illegal for advertising practices.
For Facebook, legal scuffles in Germany are no novelty. The most recent ruling was just passed by the country's highest Federal Court of Justice, and deemed Facebook's "Friend Finder" feature illegal on the grounds that it was essentially encouraging spam. The case was filed back in 2010 by the Federation of German Consumer Organizations (VZBV), but the group is now unsure of how this will affect Facebook's current operations in Germany after six years (and so many changes to its features).
Facebook has been continuously under fire in the EU for privacy concerns, from tracking non-registered Facebook users through cookies to contacting everyone in a user's mailbox with an invitation to join Facebook (as the Friend Finder feature could also do). In this particular case, both Facebook and the VZBV are awaiting clarification from the court to find out what happens next. Klaus Mueller, the Federation's head, explained that since the feature has likely changed after six years, this may also change how the ruling is handled or how it affects Facebook at this time. "What the judgment means exactly for the current Friends [sic] Finder, we now have to find out." The ruling also opens up the potential to affect other online networks and groups that use similar strategies to garner more users. "In addition to Facebook, other services use this form of advertising to attract new users," added Mueller, "they must now probably rethink."
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