A German Court Says Facebook’s ‘Friend Finder’ Is Harrassment

January 15, 2016, 4:57 PM UTC
World Leaders At G8 Summit
Angela Merkel, Germany's chancellor, left, with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, second from right, at the G8 summit in 2011.
Photograph by Getty Images

Facebook’s “friend finder” tool that allows users to invite their contacts to the social network is actually a form of harassment, Germany’s top court ruled Thursday.

The court held that the feature, which allows Facebook (FB) members to import their address books and send friend requests, essentially spammed their contacts without a Facebook account by emailing them to sign up, Reuters reported.

Soliciting new users through this practice, Facebook engaged in advertising abuse and deceptive marketing, Germany’s Federal Court of Justice found, affirming two previous rulings on a lawsuit brought by a German consumer group in 2010.

It was unclear whether or not the social media company would be penalized with a fine or monetary damages; a Facebook spokesperson in Germany told Reuters that it had not yet received the official ruling but would evaluate “any impact on our services.”

Facebook has been dealing with other legal problems in Germany recently. It is the subject of a criminal investigation in which government prosecutors have accused the social network’s top executive in the region of facilitating hate speech and racist commentary, particularly against migrants, by not removing such posts.

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