Man Wins Round Against Facebook for Unwanted Text Messages

Using a phone in a car texting while driving concept for danger of text message and being distracted
By William Vogeler, Esq. on June 21, 2019 11:00 AM

To Facebook, Noah Duguid is like those annoying automated text messages.

He sued the company for sending him the unsolicited messages, but a judge threw out his case. Duguid appealed, however, and now he's back again.

The U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals says he has a case. If it goes forward as a class action, Facebook may never hear the end of it.

Unwanted Text Messages

In his 2015 lawsuit, Duguid says he didn't have a Facebook account but the company kept sending him texts. The automated messages said his Facebook account was being accessed by an unrecognized device.

Duguid claimed in federal court that Facebook violated the 1991 Telephone Consumer Protection Act, which prohibits unsolicited, automated text and telephone messages -- the dreaded "robocalls" and "robotexts." He alleged he never gave the company permission to use his cellphone number, and he couldn't get through to Facebook to end the texts.

Facebook argued that the TCPA violated its First Amendment right to free speech. The Ninth Circuit said part of the law -- creating an exception for debt collection by government -- was unconstitutional. The Fourth Circuit said as much in a separate case.

But everybody knows Facebook is not the government, even if it has more users than most countries and can sway elections. So Duguid's case against the company will go on.

Other Unwanted Messages?

Meanwhile, the Federal Communications Commission is moving to deregulate text messages. The FCC wants to reclassify text messages from telecommunications services to information services. It would allow the service providers more latitude when it comes to blocking robotexts.

FindLaw's George Khoury says it could end up impacting small businesses that use automated texting services to notify people of appointments, important events, or other messages that they have consented to receive.

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