updated 01:26 am EDT, Thu July 12, 2012
'Sponsored Stories' agreement on table for Thursday's hearing
Just one day before a hearing on Facebook's settlement agreement regarding the controversial "Sponsored Stories" ad posts, US District Court Judge Lucy Koh suddenly recused herself from the proceedings. Facebook's "Sponsored Stories" were advertisements that appeared on a user's Facebook page when a friend "likes" an advertiser, including the friend's name and photograph. The suit claims that the paid post uses user's images and names to advertise products without compensation or letting them opt out of being used for advertising purposes. The judge is apparently loosely connected to organizations that are set to receive money from the settlement.
The settlement forces Facebook to revise its terms of service to allow members to control what information can be used in "Sponsored Stories," or letting the user opt out completely. Additionally, $10 million will be paid to 15 different consumer privacy advocating charities.
Koh's husband is co-director of Stanford University's Center for International Security and Cooperation, and Stanford University's Information Law Institute is set to receive $600,000 as part of the settlement. Koh herself sits on the Santa Clara University School of Law's High Tech Advisory Board, and the Santa Clara High Tech Law Institute is also receiving $600,000. While neither Koh nor her husband directly benefit from the settlement funds, the judge seems to be recusing herself to avoid even the appearance of impropriety.