• Germany's news in English
High Court scolds Facebook for sending ‘harassing’ emails
Photo: DPA

High Court scolds Facebook for sending ‘harassing’ emails

DPA/The Local · 15 Jan 2016, 09:40

Published: 15 Jan 2016 09:40 GMT+01:00
Updated: 15 Jan 2016 09:40 GMT+01:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

The ruling concerns Facebook’s "Friend Finder” from its 2010 version which encouraged new members to invite their friends - which in effect meant handing over a contact list of email addresses to the social media giant.

Facebook let it be known after the ruling that Friend Finder no longer exists in the form in which the high court was considering.

But the company added that as soon as the written judgement was available they would "fundamentally check what influence it would have on the current service".

The decision doesn’t just affect Facebook though, but concerns all social media organizations that send invitations to email address books of new members.

Twitter didn’t want to comment on Thursday as to whether it would be affected by the ruling.

Facebook argued in court that its emails only informed people of the technical platform it was offering which they could use as a communication network.

But consumer rights groups said that clear business interests were at stake as the aim of the email was to encourage people to join Facebook as opposed to a competing social network.

The judge came down on the side of the consumer rights groups.

"We are of the opinion that this is an advert for Facebook, which Facebook is also responsible for," said the presiding judge, explaining that the emails contained a link which only needed to be clicked on by the recipient to start the process of opening an account.

The court also ruled that Facebook deceived new members with the presentation of the Friend Finder function, explaining that the question "Are your friends already on Facebook?" didn’t make it clear that invitations would be sent to unregistered contacts.

Story continues below…

Information making clear that this would happen was hidden behind a link containing the text "Your password will not be saved by Facebook."

Although the 2010 version of Friend Finder no longer exists, Facebook still has a function whereby users are encouraged to import email contact lists for the company's use. Consumer rights groups consider this to also be legally dubious.

The Consumer Rights Centre is currently embroiled in two other law suits against Facebook - one of which concerns the design of the App Center, the other concerns the slogan "Facebook is and remains free".

For more news from Germany, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

DPA/The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Five things not to miss at the Frankfurt Book Fair
Photo: DPA

From consulting a book doctor to immersing yourself in an author's world with the help of virtual reality, here are five things not to miss at this week's Frankfurt Book Fair, the world's largest publishing event.

Parents who don't get nursery spot for kid entitled to pay
Photo: DPA

The Federal Court of Justice (BGH) ruled on Thursday that parents whose children don't receive placements in nursery care are entitled to compensation.

Eurowings braces as cabin crew union proclaims strike
Photo: DPA

A union representing cabin crew for Lufthansa's budget airline Eurowings announced that strikes could take place at any time over the next two weeks, starting on Monday.

Mysterious German U-boat wreckage found off Scotland
Photo: ScottishPower

First World War U-boat "attacked by sea monster” thought to be found off Scottish coast.

Supermarket Edeka warns of exploding apple juice bottles
Photo: DPA

"Risk of injury" from "Gut und Günstig" sparkling apple juice bottles has forced Germany's largest supermarket to recall the product.

By wheelchair from Syria to Germany: teen's story of hope
Nujeen Mustafa. Photo: HarperCollins-William Collins Publicity/Private

She tackled the gruelling 2,000-kilometre migrant trail in a wheelchair, translating along the way for other refugees using English she learned from a US soap opera. Now this teen is living in Germany and hoping to inspire others with a newly published memoir.

Berlin Zoo to have a pair of pandas by next summer
A recently born panda pair at Vienna Zoo. Photo: DPA

The giant bamboo-eating bears will move into a brand new 5,000 square-metre enclosure in the capital's Zoologischer Garten.

Two new spider species discovered in Munich
Zoropsis spinimana. Photo: rankingranqueen / Wikimedia Commons

It's news every arachnophobe in Munich is no doubt thrilled to hear: two types of spider new to the region have been discovered in the Bavarian capital - and one of them bites!

After woman's body found in barrel, husband may walk free
Franziska S., who went missing 24 years ago. Photo: Hanover police.

A woman disappeared in Hanover 24 years ago, but no one reported her missing. Although her husband has now confessed to her murder, he still may not step foot in jail.

Two injured after army tank falls 50 metres in Alps
A Bundeswehr Puma tank. File photo: DPA

A Bundeswehr (German army) soldier has been severely injured after the tank he was riding in crashed 50 metres down an embankment after going off course in bad weather.

Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
10 things you never knew about socialist East Germany
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
How Germans fell in love with America's favourite squash
How I ditched London for Berlin and became a published author
Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
12 clever German idioms that'll make you sound like a pro
23 fascinating facts you never knew about Berlin
9 unmissable events to check out in Germany this October
10 things you never knew about German reunification
10 things you're sure to notice after an Oktoberfest visit
Germany's 10 most Instagram-able places
15 pics that prove Germany is absolutely enchanting in autumn
10 German films you have to watch before you die
6 things about Munich that’ll stay with you forever
10 pieces of German slang you'll never learn in class
Ouch! Naked swimmer hospitalized after angler hooks his penis
Six reasons why Berlin is now known as 'the failed city'
15 tell-tale signs you’ll never quite master German
7 American habits that make Germans very, very uncomfortable
Story of a fugitive cow who outwitted police for weeks before capture
Eleven famous Germans with surnames that'll make your sides split
The best ways to get a visa as an American in Germany
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd