The district court for the Northern District of California recently dismissed a class-action lawsuit filed against Facebook on behalf of minors whose images were allegedly used by Facebook in advertising content for various third-party advertisers on the Facebook platform. The court found that Facebook’s terms of service – its “Statement of Rights and Responsibilities” – gave Facebook the necessary permission to use the minors’ images in advertising and found that the terms of service are enforceable against minors.
The plaintiffs argued that the terms of service are unenforceable with respect to minors because under the California Family Code minors are prohibited from entering into contracts that give a delegation of power to another party or that relate to personal property that is not in the minor’s “immediate possession or control.” Alternatively, the plaintiffs argued that the terms of service are voidable under California law. The district court found that the consent provided for use of the minors’ names and profile pictures does not violate the California Family Code, in part, because the users’ names and profile pictures are not tangible property. While the court acknowledged that the plaintiffs “almost certainly” could disaffirm the contract, the court found that the plaintiffs never expressed an intent to do so and instead continued to use their Facebook accounts after the action was filed.
TIP: When drafting terms of service or other types of contracts that may apply to minors, keep in mind that state laws may prohibit minors from entering into certain types of contracts altogether, and other types of contracts may be voidable by a minor.