Class Action Complaint Alleges Facebook Click Fraud
By Brian Kozlowski – Edited by Jad Mills
RootZoo, Inc. v. Facebook, Inc., 5:09-cv-03043-HRL (N.D Cal. July 7, 2009)
In a federal court complaint filed in the Northern District of California on July 7th, sports discussion board and social networking site RootZoo alleged that Facebook charged them for advertising referrals that never occurred and that Facebook failed to “properly guard” against click fraud, the practice of third-party individuals or computer programs repeatedly clicking on the advertisement to inflate the number of referrals.
RootZoo’s complaint accuses Facebook of both breach of the “implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing” in their advertising contract and unfair business practices. RootZoo was one of many advertisers who paid Facebook for each click referring a Facebook user to their site. RootZoo claims that Facebook consistently charged them for more outgoing referrals than the RootZoo servers logged as incoming during the period they advertised on Facebook. According to the complaint, when RootZoo submitted server log documentation to Facebook and asked to be refunded for the discrepancy, Facebook refused to provide any refund and would not release any documentation to back up their refusal. The complaint contrasted Facebook’s unwillingness to release data with the more transparent practices of Yahoo! and Google. RootZoo’s filing came only weeks after TechCrunch wrote a series of well-publicized articles on Facebook click fraud prompted by outraged advertiser posts on the marketing discussion board WickedFire. Following the TechCrunch articles, Facebook representatives claimed to have “developed a series of sophisticated systems” to detect click fraud and to have refunded any advertisers that were affected. However, RootZoo is seeking class action status and an unspecified amount of damages..